Action/Fantasy/Sci-Fi | Warner Bros. | 124m | Rated: PG-13
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Aldis Hodge, Pierce Brosnan, Quintessa Swindell, Sarah Shahi, Marwan Kenzari, Noah Centineo
Synopsis: After being gifted the powers of the Egyptian gods and imprisoned for his actions, Black Adam is freed after nearly 5,000 years and comes face-to-face with a modern world not quite ready for his brand of justice.
Dwayne Johnson has a track record for revitalizing franchises. Most notably when he swaggered into the world of The Fast and the Furious. But with Black Adam I was curious if he had the gusto to revitalize my superhero movie fatigue and more importantly if he could inject some energy into the DC film universe. Johnson has played many larger-than-life characters but surprisingly he has yet to step into the current fabric of comic book movies. Until now. Seemingly designed genetically to play a superhero, Johnson certainly fills the shoes of Black Adam’s antihero persona. And while it may not have truly pulled me back to a level of being excited for comic book movies, I can say it without question accomplished what it was supposed to because it was an entertaining ride with just enough fresh ingredients.
Front and center is Johnson who kills it in this role. I was curious if he was going to bring his normal schtick, or if he was going to lean into something more along the lines of his WWE persona. And I think he found a nice middle ground. He doesn’t say much, and his menacing expressions and towering stature in the suit make him the imposing figure Black Adam needs to be.
I was consistently entertained while watching and the blend of different characters with the addition of the Justice Society kept the pace moving nicely. I enjoyed the flow of origin story, with a new unique setting, and Adam’s brutal form of justice. An army has occupied Adam’s home country and seeing him dispense carnage to free his people was delightfully violent. However, the movie doesn’t get bogged down with a heavier tone. There are ramifications, there are hefty stakes, and the emotional intensity does hit when needed. But doses of effective levity and a playful vibe with the level of violence gives the movie a charming little sadistic streak, while still maintaining a PG-13 rating.
It was cool to see Dr. Fate on screen and I loved Brosnan’s confident performance. Aldis Hodge was a bit hit-and-miss for me. I felt like he leaned into the role a bit too much, almost feeling like he was in a Snyder film with an overtly deliberate tone. Almost like he was taking himself a tad too seriously. However, I’m not overly familiar with Hawkman, and Hodge is a great actor, so it was still enjoyable to watch him command this role. The rest of the performances were fine with no one really sticking out, but all were more than serviceable and able to deliver their doses of personality when needed.
The middle act does get a bit bogged down with some of these added characters. I do feel Black Adam is at times just slightly forgotten in his own film but it’s modest. And while I did lose a touch of my enthusiasm in the middle of the movie it picked up nicely in the final act to deliver a satisfying closing. It’s filled with action spectacle and adrenaline pumping superhero moments with Johnson as Adam effectively filling the screen with all the superhero/antihero gravitas.
Something that admittedly did lead to a few drawbacks. The story does flip Adam back and forth between hero and antihero. I did enjoy the themes of a superhuman’s responsibilities to actually be a hero to the human race. There are spots of interesting dialogue between the characters as it explores these concepts. On the other side of the coin though is a ton of exposition that frequently gets in the way and consumes time. Which makes the more thought-provoking elements of the story feel a bit expressed for the need of needing to fill the runtime with the usual tropes.
In the end, Black Adam is a fun comic-book movie that delivers a bold adventure that plays vibrantly on the big screen. Johnson is fantastic in the lead; he carries the energy of the film effortlessly on his massive shoulders and it all weaves into a solid introduction to a character I have a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot more of in the DC film universe.
Anthony J. Digioia II © 2022 SilverScreen Analysis. All Rights Reserved.