Starring Dwayne Johnson, John Hurt and Ian McShane
Directed by Brett Ratner (Rush Hour)
Rated PG-13 for epic battle sequences, violence, suggestive comments, brief strong language and partial nudity
This revisionist take on the mythical story of Hercules finds Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as the supposed son of Zeus. A demigod with monumental strength and extreme cunning in battle, Hercules finds himself and a few friends he has picked up along the way, as mercenaries who are hired by a Greek lord (Hurt) to train their army of farmers in order to protect the kingdom from a ruthless warlord.
Brett Ratner stories have always excelled when it comes to action with a big sense of humor, and this film is no different. Johnson has terrific comic timing and can be both physically imposing and goofy at the same time. Bringing that talent to this famous mythological character isn’t the worst idea Hollywood has ever had. Supplying him with cronies that help to add to his legend is another interesting touch that works for the film.
Unfortunately for me the movie felt more tedious than enjoyable. Yes there is a lot of action, but when a film is wall-to-wall action, sometimes it gets boring, and that seems to be the case here. The filmmakers seemed to know this and they created a backstory for Hercules and his family to give it some edge, but the way they did it didn’t seem to add the emotional depth they were hoping for. Maybe if they had stolen a page from Gladiator, it could have been a more successful plot device.
And then there is a huge plot twist leading into the third act that doesn’t over well at all. Sure it was a surprise, but the plot holes get huge and I’m certain a second or third viewing will have most audiences scratching their heads.
I’m not sure if a few more revisions would have helped, but they sure couldn’t have hurt. That being said, this summer has really had a lack of big, mindless Hollywood epics, so this one just might fill that long-missing gap. C