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Things That Happen In Every Dwayne Johnson Movie

This content was paid for by Netflix and created by Looper.

Dwayne Johnson has established himself as one of Hollywood's biggest box office draws, with two decades of hits to show for his cinematic career so far. Johnson is, of course, also known by his professional wrestling stage name, "the Rock," but ever since he made the transition from the wrestling ring into the acting world, Johnson has become an undeniable movie star who commands the screen and brings a whole lot of good humor to the mix.

Throughout Johnson's many movies, there are some common threads to be found that tie his filmography together. For example, in his action films, there's usually an epic explosion or two, and Johnson's characters often commandeer a really cool vehicle for a slick chase. Meanwhile, his comedy pics tend to feature him as the reluctant leader of a wacky pack of people, and almost all of his movies are likely to include a little hand-to-hand combat action since, you know, he came into the job with some well-developed fighting skills. There are some smaller, more signature details that make it into many of his movies as well, and if you pay close attention, you might pick up on some fun trends that can be found throughout his films.

Johnson is an incomparable entertainer, no matter the genre, and his latest work in "Red Notice" has all of the elements that makes us love the Rock so well, from heart-pounding action sequences to hilariously zippy quips to some surprising tenderness and true character connections. So, to celebrate his new sensational turn in "Red Notice," here's a look at some of the more unique things you might notice in Dwayne Johnson's movies.

Underestimated characters

There's no doubt that Johnson's "Red Notice" character, FBI Special Agent John Hartley, is grossly underestimated by everyone around him. From his unlikely partner in crime, Ryan Reynolds' Nolan Booth, to the people he works with in, ostensibly, an official capacity, almost no one in the film understands who he really is — and what he's really capable of — until he spells it all out for them.

Similarly, Johnson has played quite a few characters inclined to surprise their peers at some point or another. Whether it's because they've got some dark secrets buried beneath that shiny smile (Agent 23 in "Get Smart"), they're grappling with some unthinkable personal tragedy (Raymond Gaines in "San Andreas"), or they're simply underestimated (John Matthews from "Snitch," Mitch Buchannon from "Baywatch," Derek from "Tooth Fairy"), Johnson's characters are usually about so much more than meets the eye.

Big guy jokes

At the same time, even though Johnson's characters are often deeper than people around them suspect at first, a lot of his movies still include some seriously self-deprecating jokes and running wisecracks about his towering size. In "Red Notice," for example, Nolan Booth takes a shot at Agent Hartley for wearing a turtleneck, which, of course, is reminiscent of Johnson's infamous fanny pack portrait that even the Rock has had fun with in recent years. Of course, it's not the only time Johnson has poked fun at his own image in a film. In "Be Cool," for instance, he played a character named Elliot Wilhelm, an aspiring actor who prides himself on his eyebrow-hooking abilitiessound familiar?

Booth also routinely riffs on Hartley's muscles and baldness throughout "Red Notice," and fans can find a lot of quality jokes about both of those subjects scattered throughout Johnson's filmography. In "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island," for example, his character, Hank, has a running joke about the peacocking potential of pec-popping. In "Pain & Gain," his character of Paul Doyle gets pestered for workout and diet tips from his fellow inmates. And in the "Jumanji" films, Johnson's character of Bravestone is a video game avatar whose muscle-bound body players are totally chuffed to discover themselves in (even if the lack of hair takes some getting used to). Put simply, one of the reasons Johnson is able to make audiences laugh so much is that he obviously has a great sense of humor about himself.

Bottoms up

Another thing fans are bound to notice about Johnson's characters, including his turn as Hartley in "Red Notice," is that they all seem to have the same taste when it comes to adult beverages. We see Hartley helping himself to some of Booth's liquor when he surprises the art thief in his own hideaway, and his other characters have been known to sip on some similarly mixer-free beverages in films like "Snitch" and "Baywatch."

No doubt, one of the reasons Johnson's characters tend to go for the good stuff and serve it simply on the rocks is that Johnson is something of a connoisseur of fine libations himself. In fact, in 2019, Johnson launched his own hand-crafted tequila company called Teremana, and he's openly taken pride in the product's high quality and the accolades his brand has amassed since its debut. So, those shots of him nursing a cocktail glass are about more than just looking cool. In those moments, Johnson is also bringing a big piece of himself to his roles.

Bumpy sky ride

As he recently confirmed in a Vanity Fair profile, Johnson is "a pickup truck guy" and chooses to cruise around in them instead of fancy sports cars. So perhaps it's no surprise that a lot of his characters also opt for the same kind of sturdy rides. However, Johnson's characters aren't limited to vehicles with four wheels — or even wheels at all. He's also been known to drive everything from jet skis to small airplanes in his movies, depending on the settings and circumstances of the stories.

The type of vehicle that seems to be a recurring favorite for a majority of his characters, even above his beloved trucks, is a helicopter. Again and again, we see his characters hovering through the skies — including in "Red Notice" when Booth steals a Russian chopper by snowballing the pilot so he and Hartley can make a prison break — and they are usually very choppy rides. In "Journey 2," for instance, it's a helicopter crash that first lands him and his stepson on the mysterious island. In "Jumanji," he has to repair a helicopter mid-flight while it dodges charging rhinos. And in "San Andreas," he plays a rescue chopper pilot who has to weave through a bunch of falling buildings to save his family. 

Even when he's not piloting one, helicopters can still be a featured part in Johnson's movies, like in "Rampage" when the super-sized wolf sends one soaring into the side of a mountain or in "Hobbs & Shaw" when Johnson's team uses a caravan of trucks to force his flying foe to land. At this point, snazzy copter scenes are all but guaranteed to feature in Johnson's movies, and the one in "Red Notice" is an instant all-timer for his helicopter-centric highlight reel.

Nature lover

Another essential element of many Dwayne Johnson movies is a nice natural setting. Though much of the action in "Red Notice" takes place across parts of Europe and Asia, the third act of the film moves the characters to the jungles of Argentina, where Booth and Hartley track down the fabled third egg of Cleopatra. The sight of Johnson's character journeying through the jungle is probably pretty familiar to his fans. There have been a number of films that also feature his characters getting up close and personal with the wilderness, including, most recently, his run as steamboat captain Frank Wolff in Disney's "Jungle Cruise," who knows a lot more about the Amazon river than anyone expects.

Rough waters are also something Johnson's characters have to deal with in his movies a lot, including in "Red Notice," when he takes a terrifying car ride down a waterfall. Similarly, it's common to see Johnson's characters grappling with dangerous animals, for better and for worse. In "Red Notice," he has a brutal brush with a bull, and he's previously battled with a number of beasts on-screen. From slaying the Lernaean Hydra in "Hercules" to tangling with a crocodile the size of a city block in "Rampage," Johnson's characters are just as likely to throw down with a terrifying creature as they are to exchange fists with any two-legged types. 

However, some of his characters are also known to make friends with creatures that might scare the daylights out of folks, like when he taught a gorilla to flip the bird and when he hitched a ride on some giant bumble bees. Friend or foe, Johnson's characters have spent a lot of quality time with all sorts of crazy critters.

The Rock

Last but not least, a great deal of Johnson's movies also pay clever homage to his nickname by having rocks come into play in some way or another. In "Red Notice," it happens when Hartley and Booth are assigned to labor punishment at the Russian prison and have to haul stones to build up the wall. It's here that Booth secretly seizes the opportunity to create an easy escape route by placing a small rock that can be removed and reduce the wall to rubble.

This metaphorical prop can come in any shape or size in Johnson's movies. In "Journey 2," for instance, his character literally moves a heavy rock. In other films, it's a little less overt — like in the "Jumanji" movies, as Braveman helps hunt down jewels. All together, these cinematic commonalities prove that Johnson knows exactly how to make his mark in all of his movies.