Dwayne Johnson discusses his new role as 'franchise Viagra' for 'G.I. Joe'

The Rock was an '80s kid, and he can't hide his enthusiasm for his new role

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Dwayne Johnson talks about working with DIrector Jon M. Chu, Bruce Willis and Channing Tatum

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It has been a very Dwayne Johnson-heavy day here on the blog.

And why not? It's his Hollywood, and the rest of us are just living in it. After all, he's got four films out this year before we even reach June, and one of those is one of the most highly-anticipated event sequels of the summer. He has settled into his new role as Hollywood's "franchise Viagra," the guy you bring in when you want to make a new movie in a series and your'e not sure how to get people interested in it again. There is a very clear sense in the new "G.I. Joe" of the series being passed from Channing Tatum's Duke to Johnson's Roadblock.

One thing that distinguishes Johnson from the typical action heroes of the '80s is just how able he is to make you forget he happens to be a gigantic slab of muscle. When he talks about how he loved "G.I. Joe" as a kid, I can actually picture him as that kid, and he seems amazed to be a real-life action figure these days.

What no one said during the press day, but what was very obvious, is that Johnson is now in a position to pick who he wants to work with, and when he talks about the process, it sounds like he and Jon Chu had to size each other up at the start of things. I can vouch for the enthusiasm that Chu brought to the project, and you'll get to see some of that in our conversation that will run later this week, and that seems to be what won Johnson over.

More than anything, I think the thing that comes through loud and clear in this new film is a sense that the people who made it all grew up with "G.I. Joe" as part of their lives. It's the same thing that J.J. Abrams brings to "Star Wars," a first-generation fandom that means there is an extra level of emotional involvement in getting things right. These aren't just people cashing in your nostalgia for your childhood; these are people who experienced it right there alongside you.

You'll see for yourself when "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" opens in theaters Friday.

Drew-mcweeny-sm
Drew McWeeny
Film Editor
A respected critic and commentator for fifteen years, Drew McWeeny helped create the online film community as "Moriarty" at Ain't It Cool News, and now proudly leads two budding Film Nerds in their ongoing movie education.
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