Dwayne Johnson as Hercules
Ian McShane as Amphiaraus
Rufus Sewell as Autolycus
Ingrid Bolsø Berdal as Atalanta
Reece Ritchie as Iolaus
John Hurt as King Cotys
Rebecca Ferguson as Ergenia
Karolina Szymczak as Alcmene
Isaac Andrews as Arius
Hercules is a mythical figure who, like James Bond and Batman, is used so much by Hollywood that it is a guarantee that every generation from now until the end of time will have its own. Mine was the Kevin Sorbo version from twenty years ago. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is the one for this era. Or Legend of Hercules if you prefer. It’s got a bad reputation, but it can’t be much worse than this… can it?
You know the stories about the Twelve Labors, the hydra, those sorts of things? They’re not in this movie. Hercules leads a band of mercenaries for hire who don’t seem to care about anything but the job, but have a change of heart when their employer, King Cotys, turns out to have hired them to help further his Carsaresque dreams of ruling all of Greece and presumably everything else after that. Disloyalty to the story aside, this isn’t a bad concept, but the sheer incompetence of this film ruins its potential.
I believe I will begin with what is the worst acting I’ve seen in years! As far as wrestlers turned actors go, Johnson is way better than Hulk Hogan ever was, meaning what? I’ll tell you what it means: jack shit! Should a 5/10 actor pat himself on the back for being much better than a negative score anti-thespian? And yet, we have him trying to appropriately pull off an ancient accent. Frankly, that is a task for which The Rock is disqualified. Forced to deviate from his usual style, Johnson descends below his usual standard into Steven Seagal territory, but for the big nothing that it’s worth, still nothing like the Hulkster. The rest of the cast is pretty bad as well. Their horrendous attempts at accents show that there are some casts for fantasy films and shows that should go with generic performances. It costs you some credibility, but not as much as deplorable performances would.
I mentioned that they dropped the ball on the plot. Again, the concept of mercenaries with hearts could work, despite how unoriginal it is, but awful dialogue and an unconvincing setup ruin it. “Today’s lesson: how not to stab yourselves.” No joke, someone thought that line was cool. The ultimate payoff is how they attempt to leave doubt in our minds as to whether or not Hercules is really the son of Zeus. Kinda hard to not believe that herc’s divine when we saw him fling a horse and rider into the air.
But what about action? Well, they screwed up that as well, as the fights are illogical. For example, when Hercules’ team is fighting a big battle alongside a small army, the protagonists abandon their posts so they can charge in. This despite the army being untrained. Hercules blames his boss for giving him a lousy army. Needless to say, this came off as passing the buck to me.
Perhaps a better title would be “Unscrupules.” Because there appears to be almost no thought put into this, because there appears to be almost no thought put into this film. What thought there is goes kinda like this: “holy shit, look at that money The Hunger Games, The Hobbit, and Game of Thrones are making! Gimme some of that!” And without true heart, Hercules strongly resembles a Steven Seagal movie; bad acting, lousy plotting, even its last asset, action, is utterly illogical. Steer clear.
Overall: 2 out of 10