What is Dwayne Johnson’s Die Hard? This question doesn’t move the world, but at least me and it has been for a long time. The former wrestler is and is becoming one of the greatest movie stars on the planet mostly associated with action films. But the blockbusters that are tailored to him have the memory value of a flash in the pan.
What films will we think of in the future when we hear the name Dwayne Johnson, as we do with Bruce Willis and Die Hard, Sylvester Stallone and Rocky or Arnold Schwarzenegger and Terminator?
Jungle Cruise finally offers something of an answer. The adventure with Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt is the first really good one “Dwayne Johnson Blockbuster” – in the 20th year of his film career.
Dwayne Johnson made some good movies, but not a good “Dwayne Johnson” blockbuster
The man who brings opponents to his knees with his eyebrow has of course already appeared in good films, such as Welcome to the Jungle or Pain & Gain. However, there are only a few blockbusters among them and most of them are ensemble pieces. Fast and Furious 5 and 6 are one of them, as are the two Jumanji films. However, neither in the Bolliden action nor in the gaming adventure Johnson has to carry the bulk of the film, as one would expect from a Hollywood leading man.
Disney’s Jungle Cruise – Featurette Wrap Video (English) HD
That stands a series of interchangeable “Dwayne Johnson films” opposite, including Hercules, San Andreas, Baywatch, Rampage and – not to forget – his dull Die Hard-Blending Skyscraper. A film that again sprinkles salt or broken glass into the wound that is the size of the Nakatomi Plaza. The proximity of the content only underlines how far it is qualitatively different from its role model.
One of the reasons for this dry spell is probably Johnson’s knack for directors without special qualities. The Brad Peytons and Rawson Marshall Thurbers of this world hire themselves out as Johnson’s house directors and make films that are so tailored to their star that they lose all corners and edges.
This is where jungle cruise comes in, and perhaps a major turning point in Dwayne Johnson’s career.
Jungle Cruise is the first really good Dwayne Johnson blockbuster
Dwayne Johnson’s new Disney film Jungle Cruise is the ideal summer blockbuster, an entertaining adventure with precisely drawn characters, jokes, a spark of love and confidently staged action. While Johnson mostly pulls the spotlight in his other blockbusters, he will an equal female star in Jungle Cruise with Emily Blunt juxtaposed.
As if someone had drawn the right conclusions from Johnson’s appearances with comedian Kevin Hart, the Disney adventure benefits from the energy that arises from the friction between The Rock and The Blunt. This film doesn’t belong to him, he has to fight for his place in it. Johnson also needs someone to counter him, otherwise he will appear invulnerable. That can be a buddy (like Kevin Hart or Seann William Scott), but also an action partner who systematically breaks open his hard shell.
Jungle Cruise’s trump card is sitting in the director’s chair
The direction is also very promising. Johnson works with Jaume Collet-Serra for the first time in Jungle Cruise. The director, who celebrated his breakthrough in horror (Orphan), explored the sensitive sides of an aging action hero with Liam Neeson (Non-Stop, The Commuter) and practiced minimalist tension cinema with Blake Lively (The Shallows).
Jungle Cruise – Trailer 2 (German) HD
Collet-Serra is one of the best craft genre filmmakers in Hollywood. Whether in an airplane or on a rock, in the jungle or on a train: the movements of his action hero: inside are conspicuously tangible, their bodies preferably in a choreographed dialogue with tables, chairs or lianas. His staging is not only about showing the most impressive stunts or fights possible – i.e. the star body in action – but also about the resulting shock waves in the environment.
The best example of this in Jungle Cruise is the sequence in which Dwayne Johnson chases Emily Blunt through the city at the beginning. As much attention is paid to the ground and, above all, to the material under the heroine’s feet as to her captors. We feel every step and especially the one thanks to which she breaks through a roof and gets down to earth.
Does this herald a turning point in Dwayne Johnson’s career?
Collet-Serra’s director rarely shows off and always delivers in the details. His sense of the physicality of his main characters suits a star like Dwayne Johnson, who once again seems human in Jungle Cruise. The fact that Johnson also shoots his DC blockbuster Black Adam with Jaume Collet-Serra gives hope for his career as an action star.
Is Jungle Cruise now Dwayne Johnson’s Die Hard? Hard to say. In any case, the action-adventure is his best solo blockbuster to date. Not only that, it’s the first truly compelling vision of what a “Dwayne Johnson Blockbuster” can be.
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