As usual, Dwayne Johnson, the man formerly known as The Rock, brings a considerable amount of goodwill to the table. Here, playing the legendary Hercules, he finds a role that he easily slips into. Hercules, directed by Brett Ratner (the Rush Hour trilogy), is based on the graphic novel Hercules: The Thracian Wars which was written by Steve Moore, and tells the story of Hercules the man – not the son of the Greek god Zeus.
We are quick to discover that Herc’s famous twelve labours were rather exaggerated. The Hydra, for example, wasn’t a multi-headed serpent but a gang of ordinary men dressed as beasts. Hercules it seems is simply a beefy mercenary whose tale has grown with every deed, encouraged by his colourful band of followers. Indeed, Hercules’ fellowship of fighters is a goofy bunch of one-note characters defined by weapons of choice and general demeanour. Ian McShane has hearty fun as Amphiaraus however, a man who may or may not be able to predict his own death.
Engaged by Cotys (John Hurt), the King of Thrace, for one final mission, Hercules and his company are tasked with stopping the dangerous Rheseus (Tobias Santelmann) and his army of centaurs (which is but one of the myths that the film plays with). It’s a simple premise with a few surprises along the way, notwithstanding the unique take on Herc himself which has him wondering if he can live up to the legend left in his wake.
The action is plentiful, and not afraid to show blood – although I wouldn’t call it gory. There’s good humour and best of all the film knows it’s a B-grade adventure and runs with it, creating a genuine crowd-pleaser that’s sure to catch audiences off-guard. Switch the brain off and have some fun with this swords-and-sandals adventure!