'Black Adam' Reviews Say Dwayne Johnson Superhero Movie Is 'Predictable' Yet 'Rollicking Good Time'

Dwayne Johnson, Pierce Brosnan, Sarah Shahi, Noah Centineo and Aldis Hodge star in Black Adam, in theaters Friday

DWAYNE JOHNSON as Black Adam in New Line Cinema’s action adventure “BLACK ADAM,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
Dwayne Johnson in Black Adam (2022). Photo: Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

Black Adam is making waves.

Dwayne Johnson's superhero passion project — which he's been working to bring to the big screen for 15 years — is out Friday, and critics are finding it fun, if somewhat familiar territory for the genre.

For Empire magazine, Helen O'Hara wrote that the movie is "sometimes a mess, but it's a generally entertaining one." But, since the PG-13 movie is "mixing family-film tropes with a protagonist who straight-up murders people," there's a "weird contradiction" at play, added O'Hara: The filmmakers "want edge, but without alienating family audiences. So you get massive action scenes without any obvious civilian casualties, and godlike powers without consequence."

The Hollywood Reporter's John DeFore said Black Adam is "predictable," and that most moviegoers will find it to be "another fine-not-great night of spandex mayhem and franchises hoping to be born."

DeFore added that Johnson "creates a magnetic antihero" with the title character — and other critics weighed in on the movie star's performance. Kirsten Acuna wrote for Insider that Johnson "clearly understands this character, is believable in the role, and commands the screen every second he's on it."

"Unfortunately, his performance is one of the film's few highlights other than a shocking mid-credits reveal," added Acuna.

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Sandra Hall said in a Sydney Morning Herald review that the actor's charisma isn't enough to sustain the CGI-action–heavy movie though: "I've always thought that Johnson's charm was pretty well indestructible, but whenever it looks like surfacing, a piece of flying hardware comes crashing down to extinguish it. There's not much suspense either. It's the kind of film which consistently confuses action with mere movement."

The Wrap's Alonso Duralde called the film "anti-entertaining." He explained, "Most disappointing of all, Black Adam is one of the most visually confounding of the major-studio superhero sagas, between CG that's assaultively unappealing and rapid-fire editing that sucks the exhilaration right out of every fight scene. (And there are so, so many fight scenes.)"

Mark Kennedy, for an Associated Press review, said Black Adam "isn't bad, it's just predictable and color-by-numbers, stealing from other films like an intellectual property super-villain." Kennedy added that Johnson is a "natural" as the character, "mixing might with humor and able to deliver those necessary wooden lines."

"Black Adam is, above all, a rollicking good time at the movies. It is a showcase for Dwayne Johnson playing to type as an invincible action-man while surrounding himself with interesting supporting characters and entertaining B-list DC superheroes," critic Scott Mendelson wrote for Forbes.

Johnson, 50, shared a few positive first reactions to the movie on Instagram Friday, expressing gratitude for those supporting the project. "15 long years I've fought so hard to make BLACK ADAM. Here we are today. I'm forever grateful for these early reactions. Really gratifying to see. Thank you. The new era in the DC Universe begins."

Black Adam is in theaters Friday.

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