“Black Adam,” with Dwayne Johnson as the DC superhero, is action-packed and if you love movies like this (and I do), this is a winner.
Here’s the story: Black Adam has been in lockdown for 5,000 years and is considered a nearly invincible global threat because he’s more impactful than an atomic bomb. When he wakes up, the Justice Society of America, or JSA, enlists an elite group to help “contain” him that includes Doctor Fate (Pierce Brosnan), Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo), Hawkman (Aldis Hodge), and Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell).
In the film he’s called Teth-Adam and he is clearly angry, with a built-in instinct to un-alive anyone that makes him unhappy. But in all that tightly packed anger he’s still basically reasonable, which serves him later when dealing with a deeper and much more dangerous character who wants to liberate the fictional country, Kahndaq, that feels like the Middle East where the film takes place.
Naturally, we get to see the dignity of the locals who want the ancient hero to help them stop the cruel, white mercenaries from taking their Eternium. And what’s amazing about the mineral is its power to transform a human being—with the help of well practiced magic—into an almost godlike state.
Growing weary of living in a state of oppression, a group of liberators, lead by Adrianna (Sarah Shahi), go on a quest to find a legendary crown made of Eternium.
Adrianna and her team recover the famed crown and in doing so, unleash Teth-Adam from his imprisonment. He is equipped to deal with bad guys by blasting blue light from his fists and bouncing bullets off his body, so equipped as a moving weapon that even a bazooka can’t stop him.
This world has an interesting twist because it’s seen through the eyes of Adrianna’s young, comic book-obsessed son Amon (Bodhi Sabongui) who idolizes Teth-Adam.
The politics of Kahndaq are complex and therefore believable so when Amon, who carries the crown in his backpack for a while, is kidnapped by Ishmael (Marwan Kenzari), we get a sense of the bravery of the people.
In fact the citizens don’t wait around for Black Adam to save the day, they stand up to the bad guys including teenager Hurut (Jalon Christian) who is featured in the film’s ancient-history prologue. I offer again, there’s dignity to the citizens of this fictional country.
It’s not a perfect film and a question looms over the insertion of the JSA members. Why do they show up at all? What harm, exactly, is Teth-Adam doing?
The screenplay is co-written by Sohrab Noshirvani, Rory Haines, and Adam Sztykiel and delivers solid action sequences laced with strong story and world building. Black Adam didn’t wake up to negotiate. He woke up to exact revenge, and this viewer gets the feeling that Black Adam will be back and will be faced with a more deserving adversary—and therefore a new franchise is born.