Rock on the Rampage

M-Net’s Sunday blockbuster movie Rampage stars none other than The Rock himself – Dwayne Johnson.

As the second highest paid actor in Hollywood, Dwayne Johnson’s career has been nothing if not action-packed. It’s a wonder he’s survived it, really. But is he all he’s cracked up to be? We’re calling his bluff on some of his iconic stunts, and we’ve got the experts to back us up.

The Rock’s background in professional wrestling has certainly helped him pull off some of those over-the-top stunts he’s known for. From playing muscle-man agent Luke Hobbs in the Fast and the Furious franchise to swinging off a 240-storey inferno-engulfed building in Skyscraper, Dwayne’s stunts and daredevil moves are really on the edge – literally. Remember that bar-room brawl he had with Jason Statham’s character in The Fast and the Furious 7? They broke through the glass, more than once. According to military experts, glass is actually not that easy to break. Throwing yourself – or your sparring buddy – through a stubborn pane of glass would undoubtedly leave shrapnel and cause severe lacerations. This definitely isn’t a put-a-plaster-on-it-and-keep-running scenario.

Gorilla tactics

In his latest blockbuster, Rampage, The Rock plays primatologist Davis Okoye, who must come to the aid of three different wild animals that would be considered pretty dangerous on a good day. Except this is really not a good day, because they have been infected with a pathogen that causes them to mutate and supersize to freakish levels. Hold on to your seats because this plane ride is about to get bumpy. Thanks to the pathogen, Davis’s cuddly gorilla friend, George, turns into a giant angry beast, who is no longer friends with him. Neither are Ralph and Lizzie, the pathogen’s other victims. Saving the day will challenge even Dwayne’s skills, as he sustains a gunshot to the abdomen, passes out, wakes up, survives a helicopter crash, a plane crash and a collapsing tower. Talk about turbulence! It’s a huge, deliciously escapist romp and very impressive to watch, but the gut wound alone would take even the most dedicated animal lover out of the running for pet owner of the month. Unless of course, you happened to have a secret weapon …

One giant leap

It took for than a stretch of the imagination and a leap of faith to pull off Dwayne’s performance in Skyscraper.

The United Arab Emirates currently boasts the world’s tallest building, the 163-storey Burj Khalifa, which towers 828 metres over the city of Dubai. Adrian Smith, the architect who worked on that mammoth project, also consulted on the design of Skyscraper’s skyscraper – The Pearl. At just over 1000m, The Pearl is ostensibly around the height of Table Mountain. According to Adrian, not only is it architecturally impossible to build a structure with 240 floors, but the fire would be unlikely to sustain itself at such high altitude because of the lack of oxygen. But physics seems to work a little differently around Dwayne. His character, Will, leaps from a crane at that dizzying height to save his family from the burning building. Not only would a jump from that height knock all sorts of records right out of the Guinness books, but there’s the small matter of gravity. Sure, there’s always some suspension of disbelief, but our good old friend, gravity, believes in you whether you believe in it or not. As does imminent death …

Watch Skyscraper online on DStv Now

The secret weapon

So how does Dwayne do it? The answer is, he doesn’t. Well, he does some of it, but the really dangerous stuff? For that you need someone who’s just as big, and just as built, but – unbelievably – a lot more tough. Please, allow us to introduce The Rock’s look-alike cousin Tanoai Reed, whose been his stunt double for the past 16 years.

Dwayne has the deepest respect for Tanoia. The stuntie has saved The Rock’s million dollar … er … face so many times that when he was injured on a stunt while filming last year, Dwayne gifted him a brand-new custom-built truck. “Over the course of my career, my stunt double (and cousin) Tanoai Reed has broken multiple bones, severed tendons, torn ligaments & just been an overall dominating badass achieving several “Stuntman of the Year” honours. All done with one goal in mind – deliver the best movie possible to the world,” Dwayne said on Instagram.

All we can say is, we wouldn’t mind an invite to the family reunion ... as long as physics can come too.

Watch Rampage on Sunday 28 April on M-Net (101) at 20:05