Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson stars as Teth-Adam (later Black Adam), initially a citizen of the fictional Middle Eastern nation of Kahndaq. Once enslaved by a power-hungry King, he is granted supernatural powers by the Council of Wizards but was eventually imprisoned by them after he was deemed “too violent.” When the film starts, resistance fighters including Sarah Shahi’s Adrianna have released him from prison, wanting to bring back Kahndaq’s protector.
Not surprisingly Theth-Adam wants none of that and immediately starts killing anyone that gets in his way. Amanda Waller (a sorely underutilized Viola Davis) calls on the Justice Society to imprison Black Adam. They descend on Kahndaq just as a descendent of the Egyptian King gets his hands on the crown that apparently is the key to ruling over everyone. (That is I assume, the crown’s true powers are never really discussed.)
The visuals are solid in Black Adam and the three major fight scenes are straightforward and easy to follow. The first fight scene has some Marvel-esq slow-motion effects that show Black Adam’s power capability. He’s virtually indestructible despite the bullets and bombs lobbed his way. Later fight scenes show Black Adam working with and against the Justice Society despite us not really knowing his motivations.
The entire cast of Black Adam is committed and it’s disappointing that they didn’t have a stronger plot to work with. There’s essentially no character development and the Justice Society is introduced with no real backstory. Quintessa Swindell as Cyclone is easily my favorite character and her specific powers are shown in a unique way. Cyclone throws herself into the air, spinning and manipulating wind speed it a cluster of green and yellow dust. Watching her fight an attempt to imprison Black Adam is one of the most exciting aspects of the movie.
The entire Justice Society including Aldis Hodge as Hawkman, Pierce Brosnan as Doctor Fate, and Noah Centineo as Atom Smasher make a fantastic team which banter and chemistry.
Again, the problem with Black Adam isn’t the look of the movie it’s the weak plot and convoluted origin story of its antihero. Adrianna is the one that challenges who Black Adam is and the ways he deals with his enemies and that’s all the conversation we get on the use of violence to achieve power. She also is the one who repeatedly tells the Justice Society to mind their own business but the plot hole is Adrianna not even looking to her own community to help wrestle control of Khandaq from the private military component Intergang (yes, that’s their name.)
I also want to note that I wish DC would use Viola Davis more in these films. Once again she pops up with some bizarre request to kill or imprison Black Adam and then we don’t see her until the last three minutes of the movie. She is so underutilized in these films and since none of her plans EVER come to fruition why doesn’t anyone still listen to her?
Even with the prior criticisms, Black Adam has some sparks of life, especially with the small bits of humor we get and it’s a promising mid-credits scene.
Rating 3/5 stars