83° Good Afternoon
83° Good Afternoon

Dwayne Johnson movies, ranked

Neve Campbell and Dwayne Johnson are faced with

Neve Campbell and Dwayne Johnson are faced with fiery dilemmas in "Skyscraper" when the building they are in catches fire. Credit: Legendary Pictures

In the upcoming thriller “Skyscraper,” Dwayne Johnson plays Will Sawyer, head of security at a Chinese high-rise that is mysteriously set ablaze. The movie looks like perfect summer fare — a PG-13 blockbuster, heavy on action but light on bloodshed — and a potentially solid vehicle for Johnson, whose hulking physique and family-man smile have made him one of today’s highest-paid actors. (Forbes ranked him No. 2 last year, just behind Mark Wahlberg.)

During his 15-year acting career, the former pro wrestler — early films billed him as The Rock — has experimented with different genres, ratings and variations on his persona. Violent pulp hasn’t worked terribly well for him, nor has pure kiddie fare. In between, however, lays a wide zone of PG-13 action and comedy, and that’s where the actor tends to thrive.

Here’s a look back at every one of Johnson’s major movies, ranked from worst to best, going all the way back to his proper debut in “The Scorpion King.” Note: We’ve excluded cameo appearances, so movies like “Jem and the Holograms” don’t count.

29. Doom (2005). This relatively early effort is a piece of R-rated pulp based on a video game. Vin Diesel can pull off this stuff (“Pitch Black”), but it isn’t Johnson’s strength.

28. G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013). Channing Tatum, star of the first “G.I. Joe,” walks out of this movie in the opening minutes, handing Johnson the reins. It’s all downhill from there.

27. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012). Another sequel in which Johnson replaced an outgoing star (this time, Brendan Fraser). It’s an action-adventure about a subterranean world, but Johnson is about as convincing as the chintzy effects.

26. The Game Plan (2007). This Disney comedy about a macho football player who discovers he has an 8-year-old daughter (Madison Pettis), has two ingredients: corn and sugar.

25. Be Cool (2005). Everyone loved “Get Shorty” but hated this unfunny sequel. Johnson does OK, though, as Elliot Wilhelm, an aspiring actor.

24. Southland Tales (2007). Writer-director Richard Kelly (“Donnie Darko”) premiered this surreal sci-fi comedy at Cannes, only to be blasted by critics. It’s Johnson’s lowest-grossing film.

23. Gridiron Gang (2006). A football coach teaches life lessons to juvenile delinquents. Oddly, viewers didn’t buy Johnson in the lead, and the movie earned a paltry $38 million.

22. Race to Witch Mountain (2009). A remake of Disney’s 1975 film "Escape to Witch Mountain," about two space-alien teens trying to get home. Johnson, as a Las Vegas cabbie who becomes their protector, makes it watchable.

21. Snitch (2013). A father becomes a government informant in exchange for his son’s release from prison. A middling action-drama.

20. Faster (2010). Doesn’t the title of this noirish thriller seem awfully similar to that of a certain film series? This one fizzled, but Johnson joined the “Fast and Furious” franchise the following year.

19. Walking Tall (2004). The original, starring Joe Don Baker as a real-life sheriff in a corrupt small town, became a populist classic in 1973. No such luck for Johnson’s remake, but it has moments.

18. Hercules (2014). A Big Mac of a movie — all beef, cheese and filler. Everyone knows it, including Johnson, which actually makes this sword-and-sandals hokum kind of enjoyable.

17. Tooth Fairy (2010). Johnson is truly charming as a brawling pro hockey player who is magically transformed into the Tooth Fairy, tutu and all. If only the rest of the movie were as good.

16. Get Smart (2008). The film version of the classic spy-spoof TV series was meant as a vehicle for Steve Carell, but Johnson steals the show as a maddeningly perfect secret agent.

15. The Scorpion King (2002). After his cameo in “The Mummy Returns,” Johnson earned a then-whopping $5.5 million for playing the hero in this sequel. Critics panned it but praised Johnson’s all-in performance.

14. Planet 51 (2009). Johnson takes the lead voice role in this animated movie about a lost astronaut, Capt. Chuck Baker, taken in by an alien kid (Justin Long). Best for younger viewers.

13. The Rundown (2003). A so-so action-comedy about a bounty hunter (Johnson) who bonds with his prey (Seann William Scott). Very hit-and-miss, but works fine as disposable entertainment.

12. Baywatch (2017). The movie version of the cheesy television show about crime-fighting lifeguards drew universal disdain. Future audiences, perhaps, will reappraise it as a loopy, likable comedy.

11. The Other Guys (2010). This buddy comedy is actually a Will Ferrell-Mark Wahlberg vehicle. For roughly two minutes, however, Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson pull off a surprise routine so hilarious that “The Other Guys” almost counts as a classic.

10. San Andreas (2015). With a little humor, this action flick — in which Johnson pilots a fire department helicopter during an earthquake — could have been a knockout rather than just another effects-driven blockbuster.

9. The Fate of the Furious (2017). It’s hard to tell No. 8 in this series apart from the rest (this one centers on the “God’s Eye” surveillance software), but the stunts still dazzle and Johnson is dependably charismatic.

8. Moana (2016). Who knew Johnson would fit so well into an animated Disney musical? As the arrogant demigod Maui, he sings the film’s most memorable tune: “You’re Welcome.”

7. Pain & Gain (2013). Michael Bay’s dark comedy about a real-life crime spree often strikes a tasteless tone, but Johnson is a revelation in the unlikely role of a friendly, dumb murderer.

6. Fast & Furious 6 (2013). In which the car-thief heroes officially join forces with FBI agent Luke Hobbs (Johnson). It’s candy-colored junk food, and totally enjoyable.

5. Central Intelligence (2016). The script isn’t much — an accountant (Kevin Hart) reconnects with an old friend who is now a secret agent (Johnson) — but the two leads make for a great comedic duo. It’s Johnson’s ninth-highest earner, with $127 million.

4. Furious 7 (2015). What sets this “Furious” episode slightly above some of the others is its closing tribute to the late actor Paul Walker — a genuinely moving and beautifully handled moment.

3. Fast Five (2011). This remains the franchise’s best episode, a thrilling heist film with wild stunts. It’s also the first time the unstoppable Dwayne Johnson meets the immovable Vin Diesel.

2. Rampage (2018). Johnson plays a primatologist(!) who must save Chicago from an overgrown gorilla, wolf and crocodile. Preposterous and very fun, thanks largely to Johnson’s natural charm.

1. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017). The surprise feel-good hit of last winter, about teenagers trapped in a video game, finds Johnson at his best. He plays a brawny adventurer on the outside who’s really a scrawny kid on the inside. This crowd-pleaser is Johnson’s top-grossing film, with $404 million.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly characterized Dwayne Johnson's role in the film "The Scorpion King."

More Entertainment