Black Adam: nothing new under the sky of superheroes [critique]

An additional spandex film that follows the DC specifications and relies above all on the charisma of its star, Dwayne Johnson.

We would see what we would see. black adama new DC production, was supposed to set the record straight, set a new superheroic standard, and wipe the slate clean – allowing for a total rebuild of Marvel’s direct competitor.

After an hour and a half, not sure that this promise is kept. black adam is just another spandex film that follows the DC specifications and relies above all on the charisma of its star, Dwayne Johnson, well molded in his man in black costume, a little old for this bullshit, but largely at the above his playing partners.

In a country in the Middle East, the people live under the terror of an international armed force. A mother and her son, a little idealistic, very hotheaded, wake up Teth Adams, a superman locked up for 5000 years in the sands of the desert. A band of villains are trying to get their hands on an evil crown. And the Justice Society of America (composed of Cyclone, Atom, Dr. Fate and Hawkman) seeks to preserve the balance of the world and will do everything to prevent Adam from causing a bloodbath…

Dwayne Johnson: “Black Adam is not Shazam!” [interview]

The principle of the film is therefore to offer Dwayne Johnson his great role as a superhero. From this point of view, black adam looks at himself without displeasure. Impeccable eyebrow play, muscles perfectly sculpted by his costumes, uppercuts swinging with relaxation and phlegm… The Rock has fun and offers himself some impressive scope shots. Nobody will really believe in his attempt to dig into the dark side of the character (and thereby “dirty” his own personality as a proper Hollywood gentleman), especially since his hero is less truly evil than legitimately very angry. This scenario trick unfortunately prevents the star from deploying his fatal weapon: humor, undoubtedly what is most cruelly lacking in the film. But we still watch him kill militiamen or beat zombies with great pleasure.

In a surprising way, black adam above all offers the star the opportunity to dig a little deeper into his relationship with Schwarzenegger. We remember that in one of the first scenes of Welcome to the Jungle, the Austrian star handed over to him the baton of a “have fun”, officially making The Rock the crown prince of actioners. 20 years later, black adam is built on the mold of Terminator 2. The dynamic between the young idealistic teenager and the demi-god descended to earth takes up the relationship between John Connor and the T 800 to the letter. to throw a good line after a fight scene, meta vertigo… everything is there, placing Johnson a little more in the footsteps of his illustrious elder.

Warner Bros.

The trouble is that in front of him is the desert. The Justice Society of America with its characters without background and its actors without charm (sorry to Pierce Brosnan who is content to dust off the mask of Dr. Fate for two hours) had absolutely no chance of making the weight. The motivations of these cheap Avengers, their logic of action and even their presence on the battlefield: everything remains unexplained and we understand after a few minutes that they are only there to make up the numbers and offer lines to The Rock. The evil wizard who arrives after an hour and a half of film is no better… Basically, faced with the power of Dwayne Johnson everything (and everyone) must bow. There lies the real problem of the film: nothing exists apart from Black Adam. All the stakes are self-destructing, all the narrative arcs collapse in favor of the sole highlighting of the superstar…

There remains a strangeness: the horizon and the geopolitical discourse of the film. The action takes place in a country in the Middle East where men live under the yoke of an armed force (American? International?) and seek to free themselves from this exogenous power. Denunciation of exploitation and predation, excesses of militias (Russian? American?) in Third World countries… black adam ventures into the field of diplomatic morality, but remains damn low on the front, as if, in a more than troubled time, Hollywood was once again trying to give itself a clear conscience at a lower cost… We find ourselves imagining that The Rock (who was rumored to be hoping to run for governor) carves out a political destiny for himself before a scene puts an end to these ramblings.

Directed without much originality (we oscillate between The Matrix and the nag style of Snyder – from 300 at Justice League), but with a certain know-how, covered with special effects and apocalyptic scenes already seen, black adam will not revolutionize anything, contenting itself with offering the (standardized and seasonal) promise of a superheroic blockbuster.

By Jaume Collet-Serra. With Dwayne Johnson, Aldis Hodge, Pierce Brosnan… Duration: 2h05. Released October 19, 2022

Black Adam: nothing new under the sky of superheroes [critique]