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Review: The Rock fails in 'Black Adam' — possibly the worst movie ever

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Dwayne Johnson in “Black Adam.” Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures

“Black Adam” does not deserve a bad review. A bad movie review would be too kind. It would imply that “Black Adam” is an actual movie.

“Black Adam” is something else — a pounding and intrusive soundtrack, a plane colliding with a helicopter, a sprinkling of meaningless dialogue and an act of contempt toward its audience. It signals the moment when Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson started taking himself too seriously, or perhaps it was the filmmakers. Anyway, whoever is doing it, you need to stop.

The Hayward-born Johnson has always been reliably fun onscreen. Here his entrance is delayed, and his face is denied us as though he were Greta Garbo making a comeback appearance. His head is covered in a black hood, like the Ghost of Bad Cinema Future, and he just sits there, a lethal shape preparing to let loose. For 5,000 years, he has been entombed and unable to kill. That’s a lot of time to be building up hostility.

“Black Adam” is not an easy story to follow, especially as it creates no desire to follow it. The basic plot seems fairly simple, though convoluted and wholly lacking in interest. Kahndaq is a (fictional) Middle Eastern country being ruled by a military dictatorship. Adrianna (Sarah Shahi), an archaeologist, puts together a team to dig for the Crown of Sabbac. She believes the crown can confer great power, which she could use to overthrow the regime.

Sarah Shahi (left) and Mohammed “Mo” Amer in “Black Adam.” Photo: Frank Masi/Warner Bros. Pictures

She finds the crown, but all hell breaks loose, and so does Black Adam (Johnson), whom Adrianna accidentally frees. Government troops arrive to take the crown back; whereupon, Black Adam starts killing everybody — tossing them, melting them with a touch, etc. Missiles can’t stop him. Nothing can stop him. Nothing can stop the awesomeness.

Some other superheroes are called in, and these are strictly second-tier entries, not a Batman in the bunch. There’s Hawkman, played by Aldis Hodge; Cyclone, played by Quintessa Swindell; and Dr. Fate, played by Pierce Brosnan, who apparently doesn’t think he has enough money. The one perverse almost-pleasure of “Black Adam” is in watching Brosnan try to invest emotion in a role that’s as solid as wet tissue paper.

Oh, yes, and there’s another superhero, one called Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo), whose claim to fame is that he can make himself enormous. That’s it. He makes himself really big. That’s so creative! How did anyone ever come up with that?

Dwayne Johnson (left) and Aldis Hodge in “Black Adam.” Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures

Can we just say it? When you get past Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, the DC superheroes are a sorry lot. Admittedly, I’m not crazy about Marvel, either, but that’s beside the point. I’m not a beer drinker, and yet I can still taste the difference between a good pilsner on tap and mop water. DC is mop water. They should quit before they embarrass themselves further.

“Black Adam” is 124 minutes long, and a good 90 minutes of it consists of fight scenes. Half of those scenes are of Black Adam fighting the other DC superheroes. Is there anything more boring than two superheroes fighting each other, when you’re rooting for neither, and yet the movie expects you to like them both? Of course, they can’t hurt each other, because — wait for it — they’re superheroes, and also because it’s middle of the movie. As everyone knows, you can’t kill off the lead characters in the middle of a movie except when Janet Leigh is in it.

Seriously, don’t see “Black Adam.” Don’t encourage this. I don’t even want to admit that it’s an actual movie, but assuming it is, it’s the worst of the year — and one of the worst I’ve ever seen.


“Black Adam”: Stock. Starring Dwayne Johnson, Viola Davis and Pierce Brosnan. Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra. (PG-13. 124 mins.) In theaters Friday, Oct. 21.