At one point in “Hercules,” a character puckishly suggests, “Don’t just stand there. Kill someone.”
You don’t have to ask these fellas — along with a female archer with Amazonian strength —twice to dispatch anyone who deserves it. They set enemies ablaze and kill with swords, spears, arrows or sometimes brute strength, which is believable given the actor cast in the title role in the second Hercules movie in a half-year.
Dwayne Johnson, who probably could pick up and throw Kellan Lutz from “The Legend of Hercules” with the same ease he uses tossing a (presumably digital) horse and rider, certainly looks the part. But he doesn’t always sound it or sell it, especially when surrounded by British actors such as Ian McShane, Rufus Sewell and John Hurt who lend a gravitas or cheekiness to their roles.
'Hercules' movie trailer
Having endured his legendary twelve labors, Hercules, the Greek demigod, has his life as a sword-for-hire tested when the King of Thrace and his daughter seek his aid in defeating a tyrannical warlord.
Hercules leads a small band of loyal warriors portrayed by Mr. McShane, Mr. Sewell, Aksel Hennie, Ingrid Bolso Berdal and Reece Ritchie who each bring different skills to the war party. Haunted by tragedy, Hercules sells his and the others’ services for gold in this movie based on Radical Comics’ “Hercules” by Steve Moore.
When hired to help end a civil war in Thrace, they find themselves trying to turn farmers into instant soldiers and facing more formidable challenges about who and what they are.
Starring: Dwayne Johnson.
Rating: PG-13 for epic battle sequences, violence, suggestive comments, brief strong language and partial nudity.
Actors such as Mr. McShane elevate the proceedings but “Hercules” is mainly a series of escalating battles with lessons about empire building, treachery and heroism. No one’s going to sing its praises from Mount Olympus or more lowly entertainment elevations.