Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s rise to Hollywood superstardom is a story of hard work, perseverance, and luck. After leaving the WWE in the early 2000s to become a full-time actor, Johnson initially gravitated toward mid-budget action films (The Scorpion King, Walking Tall, Doom) and family comedies (The Game Plan and Tooth Fairy). It wasn’t until after the success of 2011’s Fast Five that Johnson’s career shifted toward blockbusters and adventure comedies.
Now, The Rock is an A-list movie star with the power to get nearly any movie made based on his name alone. His career has now spanned over 20 years, and along the way, Johnson has given some memorable performances. Here are five of the best movies with The Rock.
In the early 2000s, The Rock was starting to dip his toes into Hollywood while simultaneously wrestling in the WWE. Johnson’s second leading role came in 2003’s The Rundown, and 20 years later, it remains one of his best performances. Johnson stars as Beck, a hard-nosed bounty hunter sent to collect debts for his loan shark boss, Billy Walker (William Lucking). Eager to move on from bounty hunting in favor of a career as a chef, Beck is assigned one last job: retrieve Billy’s treasure-hunter son, Travis (Sean William Scott), from a mining town in Brazil.
Upon his arrival, Beck meets the town’s leader, Cornelius Bernard Hatcher (Christopher Walken), who doesn’t take too kindly to outsiders. The odd couple of Beck and Travis must work together to escape Brazil before Hatcher hunts them down. The lasting memory of The Rundown is the innate chemistry between Johnson and Scott, which makes you wonder why a sequel never happened.
Watch on Peacock
Since 2011, Johnson has starred as DSS Agent Luke Hobbs in the Fast & Furious franchise. For this list, only one film from The Fast Saga will make the cut. Otherwise, multiple Fast films would occupy at least three spots. Fittingly, Johnson’s first appearance in Fast Five remains the best Fast & Furious movie.
After escaping police custody in the U.S., Dom Torretto (Vin Diesel), Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker), and Mia Torretto (Jordana Brewster) flee to Rio de Janeiro. Desperate for money and new lives, the trio assembles a crew to steal $100 million from Brazilian drug lord Hernan Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida). However, Hobbs (Johnson) is hot on their tail, intending to bring Torretto down for his crimes. For the first time in the franchise, Dom has a worthy adversary in Hobbs, and their vicious fight is still one of the most talked about scenes of the series.
Before becoming a professional wrestler, Johnson played four years of football at the University of Miami. Although his NFL dreams materialized, Johnson recaptured some of his old football magic, this time as a coach, in Gridiron Gang. Sean Porter (Johnson), a counselor at a detention center for teenage boys, decides to start a football program to instill a sense of belief, commitment, and winning into their lives.
At first, the team struggles due to their lack of experience and inability to work together. However, the boys slowly trust Porter’s disciplinary mindset and coaching strategies while learning to play as a team. Though the action on the field can be entertaining, the characters’ relationships and interactions off the field elevate the material from a cheesy sports movie to an engaging drama.
Watch on Netflix
In 2013, Johnson was an ascending action hero on the cusp of real superstardom. At the time, Johnson still found himself in mid-budget action thrillers like Snitch. In one of his better dramatic performances, Johnson stars as John Matthews, the owner of a construction company whose life comes crashing down when his son Jason (Rafi Gavron) is unexpectedly arrested for drug possession and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Using his connections, John cuts a deal with U.S. Attorney Joanne Keeghan (Susan Sarandon) to go undercover and inform on a drug operation in exchange for a reduced sentence for Jason. The undercover operation goes haywire when John gets involved with the Mexican cartel, forcing him to risk his life to complete the mission. With a modest budget of $25 million, Snitch somehow features a loaded cast, including Johnson, Barry Pepper, Benjamin Bratt, Harold Perrineau, Jon Bernthal, Michael Kenneth Williams, Melina Kanakaredes, David Harbour, and Susan Sarandon.
After spending almost 20 years fighting some of the best athletes inside the ring, The Rock faced his toughest challenge — Mother Nature — in San Andreas. After the San Andreas Fault shifts, the largest earthquake in history wreaks havoc on the residents of California. Ray Gaines (Johnson), an LAFD rescue helicopter pilot in Los Angeles, springs into action, saving his estranged wife Emma (Carla Gugino) from a collapsing skyscraper.
Blake (Alexandra Daddario), Ray and Emma's daughter, is stuck in San Francisco when the earthquake hits but survives the destruction. Knowing the fault will shift again and create more earthquakes, Ray and Emma fly to San Francisco to rescue their daughter. However, avoiding the earthquake’s destruction on their journey will push the couple to their limits.