Film: Hercules, directed by Brett Ratner

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 01 November, 2014, 11:11pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 November, 2014, 11:11pm

Dwayne Johnson, Ian McShane, Rufus Sewell
Director: Brett Ratner

During his years as a professional wrestler, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson rarely disappointed his fans. Faced with seemingly insurmountable odds, he would lift himself off the canvas, raise that comical eyebrow, serve up a dose of smackdown on his opponent and everything would be all right with the world.

Things have played out much the same in his film career as well. It started with Johnson playing something of an oddity ("Hey, it's that wrestler guy!"), but he has by force of will and charisma established himself as a leading man. And films such as Hercules are his forte - summer box office smashes that never forget what they are: pretty mindless but thoroughly enjoyable entertainment.

Life poses many problems when you're the bastard son of a god and for Johnson's Hercules, the main struggle seems to be to find a purpose. Should he keep the physical powers that come with his heritage under wraps and try to be more human, or should he just let loose and make his enemies cower?

Here, Hercules decides on a compromise of sorts, gathering a group of mercenaries and renting themselves out to what they consider worthy causes: righting wrongs, saving damsels in distress, and laying waste to all manner of nasty creatures. There's not much plot, but battle after battle linked by Johnson mulling over his own humanity. Occasionally, he gives that eyebrow a workout to remind us that - just like him - we shouldn't be taking any of this too seriously.

Having Brett Ratner ( Rush Hour) behind the cameras doesn't hurt. The set scenes where our hero and his mercenaries take on all comers are staged with suitable ferocity and at breakneck speed. Fleshing out the support cast with the likes of the ever reliable Ian McShane and Rufus Sewell gives Johnson something to lean on during the rare moments when his act threatens to wane.

Extras: extended cut; commentary with director Ratner and producer Beau Flynn; An Introduction: Brett Ratner and Dwayne Johnson, Hercules and His Mercenaries, Weapons!, The Bessi Battle, The Effects of Hercules featurettes; 15 deleted/extended scenes.