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After acquiring distribution rights in 2019, Netflix is finally debuting Red Notice starring Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot in limited theaters on Nov. 5 and on the streamer Nov. 12. Written and directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber (Skyscraper), Red Notice finds FBI profiler and art thief expert, John Hartley (Johnson), crossing paths with the top two art nabbers in the world, Nolan Booth (Reynolds) and Sarah Black (Gadot).
This year is the 20th anniversary of Dwayne Johnson dipping his toe into the cinematic ring with his very first acting role as Mathayus of Akkad (a.k.a. The Scorpion King) in The Mummy Returns. With almost 40 movies on his resume now, we decided the best prep for Red Notice is to recommend a few of his action films that led to his theatrical domination.
The Scorpion King (2002)
Still known as The Rock back then, the wrestler with acting ambitions made such an impact with his tiny bit of screen time in The Mummy Returns that he, and his character, were given their own prequel. Following in the big ‘ole footprints of body-builder-turned-actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, The Scorpion King allowed The Rock to lean into his strengths and find his style on camera without being overly chatty. On the action side, Johnson got to wear lots of leather, do dual-handed flippy things with weapons and fight a myriad of enemies while a lot of fire burned around him, or on their swords. A solid start for the action maven in the making.
The Rundown (2004)
Two years after The Scorpion King, Johnson got to play a contemporary action hero role in The Rundown, which is about a “retrieval expert” going out on one last gig. At first glance, Johnson’s character of Beck seems better suited to a more grizzled, world-weary actor who looks a lot closer to retirement age, because there’s no debating that even in a nice suit, Johnson looks like a baby in this flick. However, he does well playing the straight man bounty hunter against Seann William Scott’s entitled rich kid, while still proving his skills knocking heads in seedy bars in the jungles of Brazil. Plus, he gets to work with whips and has a stand-off against Christopher Walken’s weirdo bad guy, Cornelius Hatcher.
Fast-forward to Rampage, where The Rock has been firmly rebranded as Dwayne Johnson — multi-faceted actor and well-known action-hero. In the Brad Peyton directed adaptation of the beloved video game franchise of the same, Johnson starts dipping into brainy but brawny territory playing Davis Okoye, a primatologist and former US Army Special Forces soldier.
As a wild-life eco warrior, Okoye helped save an albino gorilla named George from poachers and then raised him in captivity. When George is exposed to a pathogen that makes him grow to a crazy size with a very bad attitude, Okoye has to save his friend from being put down and wiping out cities in the middle of his path of destruction. Essentially a King Kong/Godzilla movie where the humans are truly the worst, Johnson gets to show his compassionate side and his beefy arms fighting mutated wolves, crocodiles, and even George.
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019)
After joining the Fast & Furious franchise family in 2011’s Fast Five, in the role of DSS Agent Luke Hobbs, Johnson’s character goes out on his own in this spin-off adventure.
Here, Johnson pairs up, “Odd Couple”-style, with Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw to bicker/fight their way through the baddies trying to take down M16 agent Hattie Shaw (Vanessa Kirby). The film is all alpha male energy, with increasingly ridiculous close fighting and epic scale action sequences as they try to outrun a genetically-enhanced Brixton (Idris Elba), who calls himself “Black Superman”. To do that, Hobbs takes them to his home island of Samoa, where Johnson gets to put his own personal ancestry on film, including the Samoan Haka as a war dance. This welcomed touch adds some unique flavor to this typically testosterone filled adventure. Plus, there’s lots and lots of slow motion blowing up of things, and who doesn’t enjoy that in this genre?
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2019)
Arguably the pinnacle film to date that mixes all of Johnson’s many talents, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle lets the actor showcase his muscles, acting chops and comedic skills with the very best results. Johnson is essentially playing the dual role of the perfect physical specimen of a videogame hero avatar, Dr. Xander "Smolder" Bravestone, that’s being internally operated by nerdy/neurotic teen Spencer Gilpin. As such, he gets to possess his typical action-hero physique while portraying the crippling insecurities of a teen boy who doesn’t trust his own strengths yet. Johnson plays both sides of the character with true skill, volleying off the winning ensemble of Jack Black, Kevin Hart, and Karen Gillan. Together, they all hit the right comedic and action beats together with Johnson doing any extra heavy-lifting needed to sell the final boss battle insanity in the final act.