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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, March 19, 2010

Johnson's back in action, out for revenge

By Scott Bowles
USA Today

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

After roles in kid-friendly Disney flicks, Dwayne Johnson, aka "The Rock," returns to his action roots in "Faster."

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Dwayne Johnson lifts a revolver as large as his paw of a hand and takes a bead down the basement hall of an abandoned hospital.

Johnson steadies the Ruger double-action revolver known as a "bear stopper" because hunters often carry the gun to stop charging animals and pulls the trigger. Though he's firing blanks, the thunder echoes through the halls, prompting film crew members to cover their ears, though many are wearing headphones.

He fires again. And again. When the gun is empty, he smiles broadly. "That," he says, "feels nice."

After a stint as a Disney leading man, Johnson is back in action. His next film, "Faster," which was officially unveiled at the ShoWest convention in Las Vegas this week, puts Johnson back in his wheelhouse.

From his college days as a University of Miami tackle, to his years as wrestling's "The Rock," to his early acting days, Johnson has made his name throwing his body into things.

And he gets to rough it up plenty in "Faster," the story of an ex-con (Johnson) out to avenge his brother's murder. The film, directed by "Notorious' " George Tillman, also stars Billy Bob Thornton and Carla Gugino as cops working to stop Johnson from completing his deadly to-do list.

How do you know this isn't the Johnson of kid-friendly "The Game Plan" and "Return to Witch Mountain?" For starters, Johnson gets shot in the head.

"Isn't that great?" Johnson says with a certain relish. He is clearly at ease in the genre that began his career with films like "The Mummy Returns" and "The Scorpion King."

"It's fun to come back after a few years," Johnson says. "I always consider acting like an education. You learn something on every movie. I feel like I'm coming to this as a different actor."

Even co-stars are glad to see Johnson back in the action saddle. "Some movies you do for money, some movies you do because they mean something to you personally," Thornton says. "And some movies, like this one, you do for fun. Who doesn't want to be chasing and shooting at The Rock?"