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If you’ve seen Skyscraper by now – a movie that might more accurately be titled Die Flaccid – then you’ll know that it stars Dwayne Johnson in the kind of role that his career has become synonymous with: that of the hero with a heart of gold and a fierce moral compass (who’s also as ingenious as all hell, and handy in a fight). Johnson has come a long way since his days with WWE, and it’s all credit to him for having become the global A-Lister who is sometimes referred to as “franchise Viagra”. But watching Johnson in Skyscraper, and coming so soon after Rampage (2018), there’s a sense that his time as an action hero might be coming to its natural conclusion. Despite the absudities of writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber’s script, Johnson acquits himself well enough, but the energy he’s brought to previous roles seems lacking, as if the man himself needs new challenges, the kind that can’t be offered by the movies he’s making, but which are available through something like Ballers (2015-). Perhaps it’s time for Johnson to stop headlining tentpole movies, and return to the smaller scale movies he made after transitioning from professional wrestling.

It’s not such a bad idea, for him or for his fans, or even those of us with a wider appreciation of his work. Back when Johnson began making movies in earnest, he appeared in projects such as Be Cool (2005) and Southland Tales (2006), movies where he was praised for his acting abilities, and where he showed considerable promise. Even in the likes of The Gridiron Gang (2006), Johnson was an engaging, credible performer who was often the best thing about the movie he was in. But since then you could argue that the last role he’s taken on that had any substance was – weirdly enough – in Michael Bay’s Pain & Gain (2013). Now Johnson may be happy with the way his career is going, and he may be happy with the choices he’s making, but a close look at the projects he’s got lined up in the next few years reveals more franchise sequels (though thankfully no Baywatch 2) and more blockbuster tentpole movies. Good news, then? Not if Skyscraper‘s lacklustre returns at the box office are anything to go by. Perhaps it really is time for Johnson to return to the kinds of movies where he can flex his acting chops and not just his muscles, and remind us all of what he can really achieve when he sets his mind to it.

Agree? Disagree? You know what to do…

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