Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson has proven to be extremely stagnant in his characters in all his movies. (Illustration by Kayla Rader, Northwest Vista College)

Dwayne Johnson and the Art of the Monotonous Portfolio

His latest film, ‘Skyscraper,’ is nearly indistinguishable from his last five projects, and nobody seems to care.

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Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson has proven to be extremely stagnant in his characters in all his movies. (Illustration by Kayla Rader, Northwest Vista College)

His latest film, ‘Skyscraper,’ is nearly indistinguishable from his last five projects, and nobody seems to care.

There was a time, years ago, when Dwayne Johnson wasn’t quite as big of a movie star as he is today.

Granted, he did still star in movies, but the all-out stardom that the actor sees today is unparalleled. Some years ago, the Rock jumped from one form of television to another, going from retired WWE star wrestler to action movie star.

The transition didn’t seem to have any hitches. The former wrestler has been cast in movies dating all the way back to the early 2000s. Now, some years later, Johnson has transformed into one of the biggest celebrities on the planet.

Coming out with several movies, each of the past few years, Johnson seems to know how to sell movie tickets.

But with so many movie releases constantly, the characters that the actor is best known for have lost some of their distinctiveness from one another; the films, too, have started to see an overarching continuity in the acting.

From year to year, the Rock has seen an influx in roles all the way up to now, with several coming out every year. I’m sure most people have noticed that the man is just about everywhere.

But, it has gotten to a point where any type of distinction between roles is really hard to find. As one of the biggest actors in the industry right now, Johnson is seemingly automatically cast in the next new production.

Dwayne Johnson’s new film “Skyscraper” has shown viewers the lack of range in his characters. (Image via Wallpapers Den)

His brand has become so big that just as long as his name is attached to the movie, it’ll sell tickets regardless. So, attention to detail, plotlines, character development, etc. can pretty much go out the window.

In other words, if Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson is in the movie, you already know what’s in store.

If there’s a new, outrageously action-packed movie coming out, chances are Johnson is the lead. That’s the reality of the movie industry these days. Even the posters for his films are nearly indistinguishable.

Whether Johnson plays an FBI agent, football star or suntanned lifeguard, you know that he’s a bona fide badass. It’s a given — or else it just wouldn’t be a Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson movie.

Most of the films inherently look ridiculous, featuring heavily over-the-top style action and rapidly developing plot, but, there’s a reason there’s so many films of the like.

His most recent project, which released earlier this month, pins the Rock at the top of the tallest building in the world, where he must save his family from a number of security breaches that somehow make their way thousands of feet in the air.

Its got everything you’d imagine from a Dwayne Johnson movie: stunts, explosions, violence, witty banter and more. But this story sounds a little bit familiar.

Earlier this year, the Rock starred in a movie called “Rampage,” which called upon Dwayne Johnson to protect the city from attacks from ferocious creatures (complete with stunts, explosions, violence and witty banter).

The characters are extraordinarily similar. If you really could believe it, both of these movies are currently in theaters. And these are just two examples.

It seems as though if the movie industry is unsure whether or not a new action movie can hold its own in theatres, just make sure Johnson has a place on the credit screen.

And you have to believe that this is true. The numbers can’t lie.

So, this leads to virtually the same movies being made a thousand times. Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, the absolutely yoked, badass human being, is clearly the perfect icon for any movie with absurdly over-the-top action.

He even weaseled his way in the “Fast and Furious” series after several installments — a series widely known for its intense action. But even Vin Diesel himself was not enough to keep the Rock off of the cast list.

The movie industry has clearly identified this consistency. At this point, with so many films flaunting his name at audiences all the time, they just have to embrace it.

Action-packed and thrill induced characters seem to be the only roles the Rock plays. (Image via Crizic)

The issue here is that there’s no shortage of funding. His movies don’t seem to have a problem with making the money back. So, if they keep selling the way they are, what would be the point in changing?

Straying away from this dynamic in today’s movie-goer society could cause some changes. And if the money’s there, you’d be stupid to mess with it.

This is a problem for audiences because then you get what we have now: a long list of heavy handed action movies that very narrowly deviate from one another, if at all.

Johnson has proved to be the perfect algorithm for halfheartedly, weak movie plots buried under intense action and violence to compensate.

Making that kind of movie doesn’t really seem too difficult. Throw the Rock on the project and it will practically film itself. This means that the idea folks in the movie industry can be lazy. A bad storyline is just that, unless you got Dwayne Johnson. Now, it’s a hit.

So, the industry, for the past however many years the Rock has been starring in these movies, have been riding of wave of monotony. They remarkably have been beating this dead horse for some time now. But, that dead horse has been coughing up money the entire time.

Moviegoers can figure that this Johnson faze won’t fizzle out till they all start flopping in the theaters.

The issue here is that there hasn’t been a shortage of the Rock fans anywhere in sight, and, in fact, has seen growth from year to year. The truth is that no matter what the movie might be about, there will always be people who’d spend money to see it.

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Joey Cunningham

University of Arizona

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