Long before the world knew his real name, Dwayne Johnson was the popular WWE figure known as “The Rock,” a bombastic wrestler with a signature eyebrow raise and bravado to spare. However, since entering the ring and asking audiences if they can smell what he’s cooking, Johnson has become a global superstar who has helped elevate film franchises and created a niche for himself as one of the most in-demand action stars working today.
However, not all of his movies are hits. It took him a while to find his groove. So which of his movies are the best and which are flops? Here are his first 28 films ranked from worst to best.
28. Jem and the Holograms (2015)
The adaptation follows a girl as she is becoming a music superstar with her three sisters. The movie was torn apart by critics, and people who actually showed up to see the movie didn’t enjoy it either. Sadly, the actor didn’t completely escape this bad movie choice and has a small cameo as himself in it. Luckily, chances are that no one will ever remember he’s in it.
27. The Mummy Returns (2001)
The adventure sequel shows the mummy, Imhotep waking up after he is shipped to London. This time we see Johnson playing the Scorpion King. It was Johnson’s first big role in a theater release. He plays the film’s villain, a role that was strong enough to get its own prequel movie.
However, The Mummy Returns wasn’t funny and rehashed much of what we saw in the first movie. The graphics also don’t seem to be aging well (see image above).
26. Planet 51 (2009)
The animated movie shows astronaut Chuck Baker coming across an alien civilization, but finds himself at risk of being stranded there. Johnson is the voice of the astronaut. Out of all of Johnson’s family movies, this one might be the one to pass on. It’s not that funny and the story isn’t interesting.
25. Tooth Fairy (2010)
Once again, the former wrestler is paired with a young actress for a family movie. This time he is a hockey player who becomes the tooth fairy temporarily as a punishment. It’s pretty outlandish and hard to watch, however, kids might be amused to see the action star in the role.
24. Doom (2005)
The action movie shows space marines going up against killing machines on Mars. The movie also starred Rosamund Pike and Karl Urban. It was a stinker, from the film’s action to the stars’ performances.
23. Southland Tales (2006)
Johnson plays an action star named Boxer Santaros who has amnesia. He teams up with an adult film star, weirdly played by Sarah Michelle Gellar, and a police officer who is investigating a conspiracy. The movie is just as crazy and terrible as it sounds.
22. The Scorpion King (2002)
Johnson’s charisma was strong enough in The Mummy Returns for his character to get his own movie in The Mummy franchise. This was his first starring role.
The prequel takes place in ancient times where he has to fight an army that is destroying his homeland. It’s another movie that hasn’t aged well when it comes to visual effects. That makes the movie really bad, considering the story isn’t great either.
21. Be Cool (2005)
In this sequel, Chili Palmer tries to make it in the movie industry. He also tries to seduce a music executive’s widow. Johnson plays Elliot Wilhelm, a gay, country-singing bodyguard. It was definitely a role against type, but the movie itself wasn’t able to capture the magic of the first.
20. The Game Plan (2007)
Once again, Johnson tried to make a switch against type by making one of his first family movies. In this film he plays a football player named Joe Kingman. The rich celebrity finds out he has a 7-year-old daughter and has to figure out how to be a single parent.
The movie is enjoyable for the kids, which is the point, but it’s hardly a classic and is probably already forgotten by most people.
19. Get Smart (2008)
The actor also got a role in this remake with Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway. Carell plays a spy named Max who has to prevent a terrorist attack. Johnson plays Agent 23, a hot shot who Max admires. It’s one of Johnson’s more acceptable movies, but like Be Cool it’s hurt by the fact that a better movie with the same concept came before it.
18. Race to Witch Mountain (2009)
Johnson once again makes it into a family movie. This time he’s a cab driver and former convict who drives around two teenagers with paranormal powers while a scientist hunts them down. It’s of course, another movie cashing in on Johnson’s likability and physical strength. It is enjoyable for young audiences, but that’s about it.
17. Faster (2010)
After a few years of doing action comedies and family movies, Johnson returned to just action with this film. He plays a small-time criminal who is trying to get vengeance for his brother’s death. The movie also stars Billy Bob Thornton and while it isn’t well-written, Johnson does a good job with what he’s given.
16. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012)
In this family movie, Johnson and his stepson go on a mission to a mysterious island. It’s a middle-of-the-road movie with a lot of familiar faces, including Josh Hutcherson, Michael Caine, and Vanessa Hudgens.
15. Snitch (2013)
Johnson plays an undercover DEA agent who hopes to get justice for his son who is imprisoned. This is one of Johnson’s better action movies, but it does preach to the audience. Other than that, this film shows why the former wrestler has made it as an action star.
14. G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013)
The actor teamed up with Channing Tatum, Bruce Willis, and others to star in this sci-fi action movie. The G.I. Joes have to fight Cobra and the threat of their organization’s demise. The movie’s dialogue isn’t good, even though it tries to be funny, and the action sequences don’t make up for it.
13. Hercules (2014)
The action star plays the Greek demigod who tries to take down a warlord for King of Thrace and his daughter. This is yet another action movie that leaves something to be desired. It’s a shame because Johnson would make a great Hercules, making this film a missed opportunity.
12. San Andreas (2015)
The disaster movie shows Johnson playing a rescue chopper pilot, who responds after a massive earthquake. His wife and daughter are also at risk. This movie lands pretty much in the middle and is a straight-forward popcorn movie. However, it gives the actor a character with an occupation that isn’t in law enforcement.
11. Central Intelligence (2016)
The comedy shows two people reconnecting from high school, the two lead characters are played by Johnson and Kevin Hart. Johnson’s character used to be awkward in high school, but is now a secret agent.
If you like the two actors, then you’ll probably enjoy this comedy. The duo plays off their opposite physiques and do a good job selling the jokes.
10. The Rundown (2003)
After his first lead role in The Mummy Returns spinoff, The Scorpion King, Johnson further demonstrated his charisma in this action comedy. He stars as a bounty hunter named Beck who heads to Brazil on one final mission before achieving his dream of opening a restaurant.
Playing off of Seann William Scott, Johnson has natural comic timing and (of course) action chops. The film represents perhaps the best example of Johnson’s ability as a leading action star.
9. Walking Tall (2004)
This remake of the 1973 action film might not be perfect, but at a brisk 86 minutes, it does serve as a solid vehicle for Johnson to continue building a reputation as a credible movie star. He plays a former soldier who returns to his hometown only to find it mired in corruption. The film features a number of entertaining fight scenes, several of which have Johnson using a piece of lumber as a weapon. It may be simple, but it proves to be largely effective, just like the film itself.
8. Gridiron Gang (2006)
After taking on the against-type role of a gay bodyguard and aspiring actor in Be Cool, Johnson further demonstrated his range in this inspirational sports drama. As a probation officer who starts a football team to keep young inmates from falling back into crime, the actor made his first attempt to take on a more dramatic role.
While the film itself falls into cliché from time to time, it still marks a notable step in the evolution of Johnson’s career from muscle-bound tough guy roles to more nuanced performances.
7. Pain & Gain (2013)
Michael Bay catches a lot of flack from moviegoers who criticize his incoherent love affair with CGI madness, but the director has turned out a few worthwhile big-screen releases. This one follows Johnson, Mark Wahlberg, and Anthony Mackie as bodybuilders who enter the world of organized crime.
The role gives Johnson the rare opportunity to play a morally conflicted cocaine addict and born-again Christian. Pain & Gain may not be for everyone, but it certainly marks an interesting change of pace for Johnson.
6. Fast & Furious 6 (2013)
Johnson returns as Hobbs in this sequel. This time Hobbs asks for the crew’s help to catch a team of mercenaries. The stunts get even crazier than those in earlier films, with multiple fights and the taking down of a tank and helicopter.
This movie brings the group back to the other side of the law thanks to Hobbs, and they are better off for it.
5. The Fate of the Furious (2017)
The franchise came back in 2017 with a new villain, Cipher, who was played by Charlize Theron. Dom mysteriously goes against the crew to work for her, while Johnson is back as Hobbs, who is less understanding about Dom’s betrayal.
The franchise tops itself once again when it comes to stunts and story. This movie, however, runs very long so it does drag at parts.
4. The Other Guys (2010)
Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg star as detectives in the comedy, while Johnson once again plays a cop who is idolized by the idiotic main characters, similar to what we saw in Get Smart.
But this movie is much better, with jokes written by the same people behind Step Brothers and other Ferrell movies. It also has many celebrity cameos.
3. Fast Five (2011)
In the early 2010s, Johnson was lending his star power to several film franchises in need of a boost. G.I. Joe: Retaliation and Journey 2: The Mysterious Island may have benefited from his presence, but neither carried the weight of Johnson’s role as DSS Agent Luke Hobbs in this film.
Coming up against franchise star Vin Diesel, Johnson brought just the right balance of dry humor and physicality to the uncompromising Hobbs, who quickly became a fan-favorite character in the Fast and Furious franchise.
Johnson helped revitalize the franchise — which is now bigger than it ever was — and has since become a central figure in subsequent films, to the point that a standalone film featuring Johnson’s character remains in development.
2. Furious 7 (2015)
The crew has to go up against Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), a character who wants to avenge his brother’s death. In the film, Johnson’s Hobbs has an explosive fight with Shaw, which proves Johnson can keep up with any action star.
This movie has a lot more emotional weight than other films in the franchise because Paul Walker died before the movie’s release.
1. Moana (2016)
After many years of trying to make a good family movie, Johnson finally made it into this memorable Disney movie. Johnson voices the demigod, Maui, who Moana seeks out to break a curse.
The music is wonderful and the story is refreshing.
Additional reporting by Nicole Weaver.
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