Dwayne Johnson is no one’s hero in “Black Adam”:-Do people who aren’t scared to get their hands dirty—rather than heroes—the world need? That is the (moderately) fascinating question that adds a little something extra to the otherwise predictable comic book movie “Black Adam.” Gravitas? Grit? Grandiloquence? Whatever you want to call it, the movie’s core is not where it is.
The same molten core of rock-’em, sock-’em hokum we’ve come to expect from virtually every other movie of this calibre is what actually happens. Instead, it looms over the CGI-heavy proceedings like a menacing shadow, bringing just enough coolness and darkness to the overheated action to keep things intriguing.
The movie establishes the scene with a convoluted and tedious prologue since it is the genesis story of the titular character (Dwayne Johnson), a nearly 5,000-year-old former slave with abilities beyond those of any mortal (one that is utterly important for everyone besides the most ardent DC Comics series fans from which Black Adam has sprung).
Beginning in the fictional nation of Kahndaq, somewhere in the Middle East, in the year 2600 B.C., the movie introduces us to a man, then known as Teth-Adam, who has been given superpowers by a group of wizards using the energy of a local mineral called Eternium. These powers include strength, speed, flight, the ability to channel lightning-like electricity, and the ability to withstand projectiles. A champion emerges to vanquish the evil ruler of Kahndaq after saying the incantation “Shazam,” which switches on and off Adam’s powers like a switch, and then swiftly falls back to sleep.
Don’t quit reading, please. It has been shortened to this.
Fast-forward to around the present time, or perhaps the not-too-distant future, when the Intergang, a group of vicious imperialist mercenaries, has been oppressing the people of a modernised Kahndaq for 27 years.
Both the Intergang and a clandestine group of Kahndaqi partisans under the leadership of Adrianna (Sarah Shahi), a former academic, are looking for a long-buried artefact. They argue and in the process awaken Adam.
He’s been sleeping for five millennia, but he’s not pleased. In an early special effects set-piece choreographed to the Rolling Stones’ “Paint It, Black,” he kills a slew of Intergang goons in slow motion. Okay, that’s fair to say. It’s very fantastic, especially if you like explosives. But let me be clear: This grumpy, deadly Dwayne Johnson is not my fave.
Thanks to Adrianna’s comics-obsessed teenage son (Bodhi Sabongui), Adam picks up superhero skills rapidly. He even receives a catchphrase to use shortly before killing his victims: “Tell them the man in black sent you.” Yes, it needs improvement.
Dwayne Johnson is no one’s hero in “Black Adam.”
Adam learns sarcasm from Doctor Fate (Pierce Brosnan), a witty wizard and low-rent Doctor Strange who is a part of the Justice Society, a group of superheroes that also includes Hawkman, Cyclone, and Atom Smasher (Aldis Hodge, Quintessa Swindell and Noah Centineo, respectively) Imagine NATO with superpowers; they claim to have been called to Kahndaq to safeguard “global stability.”
They teach Adam about collaboration by attempting to coax Adam into cooperating with them. Adam responds, “I adore teams,” in a voice dripping with disdain (not).
Dwayne Johnson is more appropriate at this point. Casting him in “Black Adam” seems counterproductive because it’s difficult to contain the man’s charm.
The point is, despite the fact that Adam’s name is on the marquee, he is not the movie’s protagonist. He asks inquiries after he fires lightning bolts from his fingers. But in this movie, it dares to propose that someone who errs on the side of immorality might be exactly what Kahndaq needs in the context of a country being repressed by an occupying force, with checkpoints and other losses of freedom.
Without a doubt, “Black Adam” continues with formulaic action scenes, tedious combat scenes, and the now-expected sacrifice of a key character. The issue of the movie, which is whether or not freedom fighters should be required to follow the laws of war, is conveyed as a question in the movie, but what gives it some flavour is the seasoning of radical politics. Uncertain whether that will be sufficient to distinguish “Black Adam” in a market where there are perhaps already too many superhero films.
In other words: It is not a question of “Does the world need Black Adam?” nevertheless, “Is the world prepared for him?”
In nearby cinemas; PG-13. contains violent scenes, nonstop action, and some foul language. With some subtitles, in both English and the Kahndaq people’s ancient tongue. 118 seconds.