By Benjamin Wright | The Playlist March 6, 2012 at 10:38AM
On a long list of cinema’s best lugheads, or muscle-bound action stars as they would prefer to be called, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson would probably fall somewhere in the middle. While never really opening a movie outside of Disney’s family film “The Game Plan” on his own, Johnson has recently fallen back on mega-grossing blockbusters like “Fast Five,” “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island,” and the upcoming “G.I. Joe 2: Retaliation.” In this writer’s opinion, he’s not without talent, showcasing an admirable comedic timing and acting prowess well above what you’d expect from a guy who started his career getting oiled up for WWE wrestling matches.
Deadline is now reporting that Johnson has signed on for a film that’s once again within his comfort zone of the action genre, with the adaptation of an upcoming Oni Press graphic novel entitled “Ciudad.” Oni Press also published the “Scott Pilgrim” books, which is probably why “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World” producers Eric Gitter and Peter Schwerin of Closed on Mondays Entertainment are behind this one. “You, Me & Dupree” and “Community” filmmakers Joe and Anthony Russo are set to direct the film, which is based on a screenplay by Joe Russo. The “Ciudad” graphic novel was co-written by the Russo Brothers and Ande Parks, and is set within the dangerous and corrupt titular city, with Johnson starring as a black market mercenary hired by a notorious Brazilian drug lord to rescue his daughter after she’s been kidnapped. Sounds like Johnson is looking to make his own version of Schwarzenegger’s “Commando,” but it seems like that’s not where the comparisons will end.
While Arnie got his start with the ill-advised iteration of the Greek mythological hero Hercules with 1969’s “Hercules in New York,” it looks as if Johnson is attempting to hop into that arena a little late in his action career. We told you two weeks ago that Johnson would be getting shirtless for Brett Ratner’s “Hercules,” and now Variety is confirming that Johnson is set to play the iconic character in screenwriter Ryan Condal's adaptation of Steve Moore's graphic novel "Hercules: The Thracian War." You’ll remember that Ratner was determined to direct similar pictures, with his version of the “Conan The Barbarian” remake falling apart and his big screen version of the videogame “God of War” still in limbo, so perhaps he’s finally found the man to do his big brawny action picture. Maybe this writer just has a soft spot for Johnson, but as long as he’s starring in some entertaining action features that aren’t completely doltish, there’s a chance they could be worth checking out, and at least “Ciudad” sounds as if it could be a fun flick. The comedic pairing of the Russo Brothers, whose television work on “Arrested Development” and “Community” has been exquisite, could yield interesting results for these untested action helmers. Their feature CV isn’t too impressive, containing only 'Dupree' and the ensemble comedy “Happy Endings,” but they’ve certainly built up enough respect from “Arrested Development” alone.
No word on a start date for either “Ciudad” or “Hercules” yet, but seeming as Johnson still has Michael Bay’s “Pain and Gain” and “Fast 6” on the horizon, it could be a ways off.