Dwayne Johnson has been entertaining people for more than two decades. From his time as a Division 1 college athlete where he was part of the 1991 Miami Hurricanes National Championship team to his career in professional wrestling where he became a superstar.
In roughly the year 2000, Johnson, then popularly known as The Rock, entered into the world of cinema and since then, he’s become even more of a household name.
His journey to get to the level he is today in the film industry has taken him through numerous genres and like any actor, some ups and downs. But for the most part, though, Johnson’s filmography is a fun time thanks to his charm and charisma.
So, since Johnson’s latest endeavor “Baywatch” comes out today, it seems like a good time to take a look back at that filmography and talk about my favorites.
10. Pain & Gain
Director Michael Bay, who’s recently been more associated with the “Transformer” movies, took a break to make this wild dark comedy based on a true story. Bay is well known for a rather erratic, sensory overload type of filmmaking and that actually worked here since the story was just so ridiculous. This extended to the leads, too, as all three of the main characters featured here were fools and Johnson did his part well, being probably the goofiest and over-the-top performer.
9. Get Smart
Steve Carell played the protagonist in this 2008 comedy, so, not only did he have most of the screen time, he also was in his element. With that said, though, Johnson really held his own here. As the most talented agent featured in the picture, Johnson nailed his portrayal of the complete opposite of Carrell’s more bumbling character. It was definitely a sign that the guy could pull off comedic work.
8. The Rundown
Before 2003, Johnson just had some minor roles and a rather forgettable outing in 2002’s “The Scorpion King.” It all changed that year, though, when he starred in “The Rundown.” This was the first time audiences were able to see Johnson really bring that charismatic personality to the screen and it worked perfectly. Johnson both fit in as the action hero tough guy while also having the charm to make for a likable character.
7. San Andreas
If you’re going to have a disaster movie that focuses mainly on the visual aspects rather than its story to entertain and thrill an audience, it helps to have solid character actors who can keep an people’s attention when the action isn’t going on. “San Andreas,” fortunately, had two in Johnson as well as Paul Giamatti. Johnson of course was the protagonist and while his performance wasn’t his most memorable, he still delivered enough screen presence to keep a person engaged in what happens next to the people on screen.
6. Walking Tall
Johnson followed up 2003’s “The Rundown” with “Walking Tall” in 2004. The film, a remake of a 70s picture of the same name, had Johnson playing much more of an ‘everyman’ than his 03 predecessor. Once again, Johnson pulled it off, portraying a relatable character while also adding that action hero persona.
5. Fast & Furious 6
After joining the “Fast” franchise a few years earlier in part five as an adversary, Johnson came back in great fashion in the sixth edition, this time an ally to Vin Diesel’s racing crew. While Johnson was great as the stop-at-nothing law agent in part five, it was also great to see him interact with the rest of the crew that led to some humorous moments. Additionally, Johnson’s character had a great fight at the end, especially his flying clothesline against the main henchman of the movie with the help from Diesel’s character.
4. Gridiron Gang
After mainly being in action movies such as “The Rundown,” “Walking Tall” and 2005’s “Doom,” Johnson switched gears and stepped into drama with “Gridiron Gang.” The movie of course uses a well-known underdog sports story structure, as it is about a football team. However, the film still had the major element of drama with its setting in a juvenile detention center.
In regard to Johnson, any sports movie is only as good as its featured coach, and “Gridiron Gang” has a standout in its lead actor. Having been in the sport at the highest collegiate level, Johnson of course understood the game. More importantly, though, Johnson did everything the role needed, he was tough as nails one minute when one of the team members acted out and was able to switch to being caring and compassionate the next when tragedy struck.
3. Fast & Furious 5
After the series got back on course with its fourth installment in 2009, the “Fast” franchise took another step in the right direction in part five by adding the character Hobbs played by Johnson. On top of being a good casting choice, it was also a fantastic idea for Hobbs to be a government agent who was tracking Diesel’s character Dominic.
The reason why the latter was so important was because it finally pit the two big action stars of the decade against each other. The lead from “The Rundown,” “Walking Tall” and “Doom” was finally going to square off with the guy from the “Fast and Furious” franchise, “xXx” and “Riddick.” Their fight, did not disappoint and the movie only got better when actions by the villain forced the two rivals to team up.
In many of Johnson’s previous action outings, his characters had mostly been charismatic, likable and his acting ability made them all have a good amount of charm. That wasn’t the case this time around in this dark, brutal, gritty crime drama.
Johnson plays a character only known as Driver who’s out on a quest for revenge after a betrayal left him in prison and harmed his family. The film is only made more intriguing by other characters, such as Billy Bob Thornton, who plays a veteran police officer who’s investigating Driver’s work. The movie is intense, pulls no punches and is different than one might expect from Johnson, but his performance is great and the overall movie is a solid thriller.
Johnson’s most recent picture, “Moana” from 2016, is also one of his best. Yes, it’s a voice acting role, but voice acting is not just something that’s easy for performers to walk into. Fortunately, Johnson was up to the task.
Johnson injects boundless amounts of energy into his character Maui, making him one of the most memorable that Disney has featured in its long line of animated movies. It was especially great seeing his ability to sing, which was featured in the song “You’re Welcome.” Just watch how much he puts into the performance in the behind-the-scenes video below.
Not only was his performance great, the whole movie around him was fantastic, too, making this one of the best pictures in his line of filmography.