Black Adam (2022)

Director: Jaume Collet-Serra

Running Time: 125 Minutes

Certification: 12a

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Aldis Hodge, Noah Centineo, Sarah Shahi, Marwan Kenzari, Quintessa Swindell, Bodhi Sabongui, Mohammed Amer, Pierce Brosnan

Attached to the role for fifteen-years, Dwayne Johnson has strived to give Black Adam the big-screen treatment, whether as a villain or leading his own feature film. After working with Johnson on 2021's Jungle Cruise, director Jaume Collet-Serra takes the reins to finally bring this passion project alive. With repeated promises it would change the hierarchy of the DC universe, it's a shame the film ends up being forgettable.

After he was bestowed with the powers of Egyptian gods, Teth-Adam (Johnson) is imprisoned after ending the reign of Kahndaq's tyrannical king. Nearly 5000 years later, he's freed from his tomb to see how the villainous Intergang have oppressed his home. Teth-Adam reacts by massacring the captors, only to collide with the Justice Society, who disagree with his violent methods.

Credited to Adam Sztykiel, Rory Haines, and Sohrab Noshirvani, the screenplay carries promise as it touches upon U.S. intervention in geopolitics. It's unfortunate the film feels unwilling to commit to such interesting avenues, instead trying to fall in line with genre expectations in dull ways. From the overused slow-motion to forced needle-drops, and especially the "giant beam in the sky" trope returning, it's all rather tiresome.

For a tale relying heavily on backstory, it's curious how such key aspects are delivered with little interest. When character history and motivations require such exposition, the decision to hurry them along leaves these elements feeling underdeveloped. This is most noticeable with the villain, who seemingly appears out of nowhere to undermine the title character's journey, leaving the impression that nobody wanted to spend time on these elements. They feel pushed aside for the action sequences, which lack excitement and feel over-edited to the point of exhaustion.

When he's devoted such time to playing the titular role, it's surprising that Dwayne Johnson feels limited and without his usual charisma. Perhaps that's a result of him playing a more antagonistic character than usual, yet one wishes his performance amounted to more than scowling and delivering contradicting responses. More interesting portrayals can be found in the Justice Society, particularly with Aldis Hodge's serious turn and Pierce Brosnan having a blast. A shame they end up part of such a lacklustre affair.

Black Adam is available in cinemas now