UK Release Date: 25th July 2014
Runtime: 98 minutes
Director: Brett Ratner
Writer: Ryan Condal, Evan Spiliotopoulos
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, John Hurt, Ian McShane, Reece Ritchie, Rufus Sewell, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Peter Mullan
Synopsis: The legendary warrior is hired by a wealthy king to vanquish a tyrannical warlord, bringing conflict to the kingdom..
If ever there was an example of an actor being born to play a particular role, then Dwayne Johnson as Hercules is certainly that example. The former professional wrestler has the ideal superhuman physique and boundless charisma to inhabit a modern incarnation of the Grecian demigod. In Hercules, Brett Ratner makes it happen and many candy asses have the smackdown layeth upon them.
Hercules (Johnson) is the leader of a gang of mercenaries, including prophet Amphiaraus (Ian McShane), archer Atalanta (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal) and thief Autolycus (Rufus Sewell). They are hired by King Cotys (John Hurt) and General Sitacles (Peter Mullan) to aid the Thracian army in their ongoing conflict with a warlord who threatens the peace of their kingdom.
The centrepiece of Hercules is an excellent performance by Dwayne Johnson. He’s not the perfect thespian, but he does have a natural screen presence that really comes through in the heightened world Ratner creates here. Whether he’s delivering one-liners or swinging a sword about, Johnson brings such fun to the world of Hercules that the film is almost impossible to dislike.
| "Are you only the legend, or are you truth behind the legend?"
Without Johnson in the central role, Hercules could have easily been a disaster. The plot is a generic tale of betrayals and battles that feels a lot like the third 300 movie absolutely no one wants. The costumes are ridiculous and John Hurt’s scenery-chewing performance is about as hammy and stupid as they come.
Thankfully, Ratner’s feather-light tone makes all of this work pretty well. Hercules never takes itself seriously and, as a result, it registers as campy, ludicrous fun. When even superhero blockbusters are turning to the dark side, it’s refreshing to see a film that completely embraces silliness and just has fun with its concept.
It’s not all plain sailing, though. Even riding on a wave of silliness doesn’t excuse Hercules from its middle act sag, which is virtually inexcusable in a movie that doesn’t even run to two hours. Fortunately, it isn’t too long until the next fight scene arrives and The Rock is screaming at people again.
| "You want forgiveness? Ask my family for forgiveness."
For all of its flaws, Hercules is a hugely entertaining film. It’s not worried about being the definitive take on the character and it clearly devoted little creative time to conjuring up a worthwhile plot. As long as swords swing and bodies battle, it’s a thrilling ride.
Pop or Poop?
In the hands of Brett Ratner, Hercules is the perfect popcorn movie. It’s a brainless action romp in which a musclebound hero swipes at people with weaponry and trades wisecracks every few moments.
It feels like some padding was done to make it an acceptable feature length, but there’s enough silliness on show to patch up the weaknesses.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.