Directed by:  Brett Ratner

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Ian McShane, John Hurt, Rufus Sewell, Reece Ritchie, Peter Mullan, and Joseph Fiennes

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has had an incredibly interesting acting career.  After going too far astray from his action hero chops with films like The Tooth Fairy, Johnson rebooted his career with a new agent and has become one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood.  Starring in the Fast and Furious franchises, the G.I. Joe series, and other blockbuster films, Johnson shines the most in ensemble casts. For some reason, Johnson has not been able to do what Arnold Schwarzenegger did in the 1980’s. He has never found that Terminator role—the role that cements his ability to deliver a blockbuster as the lone star in a film.  With Scarlett Johansson’s Lucy poised to win this weekend’s box office, it does not appear that Hercules will be that film for Johnson.

Legend has it that the Greek god Zeus fathered a son, Hercules (Johnson), with a mortal woman.  His goddess wife Hera was none too pleased and she attempted to kill Hercules many times during his childhood.  When he came of age, the gods decreed that if he completed twelve challenges, Hera would have to stop trying to murder Hercules.  Hercules completed the tasks, and his legend grew throughout the land.

Hercules, however, wants to live a simple life, fighting for his king, Eurystheus (Joseph Fiennes).  He does not want to be a hero, but rather wants to live with his wife and three children.  Unfortunately, Hercules’ entire family is mysteriously killed, and Hercules is blamed and cast out.  After the tragedy, Hercules and a group of fellow warriors, Amphiaraus (Ian McShane), Autolycus (Rufus Sewell), Atalanta (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal), Iolaus (Reece Ritchie) and Tydeus (Aksel Hennie) travel the land selling their mercenary services.  

Lord Cotys (John Hurt) hears of Hercules’ legend and offers to pay him his weight in gold if he aids the kingdom of Thrace. Specifically, Lord Cotys is facing a band of rebels that is terrorizing the region with centaurs and great sorcery.  Lord Cotys needs Hercules to train Thrace’s army and lead them into battle against the rebels.  Hercules is reluctant to become embroiled in regional politics but the monetary win for Hercules and his fellow warriors would allow them to retire and live peacefully. Hercules begins to train the army of Thrace, but all is not what it seems.

Hercules in many ways feels like The Scorpion King.  We once again see the Rock don a wig (this time made of the hair from a Yak’s genitals) playing a reluctant hero in ancient times.  So viewers who enjoyed The Scorpion King will likely enjoy Hercules. The plot is straight-forward.  (The contrast between Lucy, also released this weekend, and Hercules could not be more dramatic).  The film is littered with fun action sequences and the requisite displays of machismo.  Moreover, the supporting cast, in particular Ian McShane and Rufus Sewell deliver entertaining performances.  There is also a surprising amount of heart and compassion within Hercules.  The film very much feels like a throwback to 1980’s flicks like Conan the Barbarian or Red Sonja.  

However, there is still more that could have been done with the film. I can ignore the fact that everyone in the film has a British accent in ancient Greece, aside from Johnson.  But what I cannot ignore is the film’s simplicity and somewhat dated tone. Moreover, if you are interested in mythology, or enjoyed Kevin Sorbo’s Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, you may be disappointed with this film’s practical take on the legend of Hercules.  

Hercules has entertaining moments, but I would not rush out to see it.  Hercules earns a .06% rating. Have a beer with this one.