The Dwayne Johnson High-Octane Thriller On Netflix That Saved His Career

By Britta DeVore | Updated

dwayne johnson
Fast Five (2011)

Hot on the heels of the tenth installment in the film franchise, Netflix has picked up the first five Fast & Furious films for their subscribers to jump into the driver’s seat of and take on a spin. While the first four titles are brimming with high-octane action sequences and performances from franchise favorites including Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, and Michelle Rodriguez, it’s in 2011’s Fast Five that Dwayne Johnson first made his mark as Luke Hobbs.

Fast Five, marking Dwayne Johnson’s entry into the Fast & Furious franchise, is streaming on Netflix.

Breathing new life into a four-film run that saw increasingly low box office numbers, The Rock would put his role in the movie down as just another piece of “franchise Viagra” that he’s been known to spread to flailing series throughout his career.

When it comes to how Dwayne Johnson has affected struggling film series, it all kicks off with his breakthrough role in The Mummy Returns as the Scorpion King. In this first major motion picture role, that would land him a spin-off just one year later, the wrestler-turned-actor was able to bump the film’s box office numbers from $155.3 million to $292 million in his first appearance alone.

With Fast Five as the next title that the Race to Witch Mountain star would bring back to life, he’s done it over again and again with other series including G.I. Joe, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and Be Cool, proving that the world can’t get enough of the brawny star’s talents. 

While Dwayne Johnson’s appearance in Fast Five undoubtedly helped bring the films back from the teetering edge of overdone obscurity, the plot also took a hard left turn from the first four titles, steering away from the street racing themes of yesteryear and focusing more on the heist aspect that we’ve come to know and love.

A box office crusher, the film raked in a whopping $626.1 million against its $125 million budget with the fresh storyline and performances from its returning and new cast celebrated by critics.

In the Justin Lin-helmed film, Vin Diesel’s Dominic Torreto, Paul Walker’s Brian O’Conner, and Jordan Brewster’s Mia are conducting a scheme that would see them the new owners of $100 million courtesy of Joaquim de Almeida’s Hernan Reyes. Meanwhile, the group has the feds hot on their trail with Dwayne Johnsons’ U.S. Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) agent, Luke Hobbs, hoping to bring them down.

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Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson in Fast Five (2011)

As we’ve come to love and expect from the films, along with Dwayne Johnson, Vin Diesel, and Paul Walker, the title was also stacked to the brim with other talented names including Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Matt Schulze, Gal Gadot, Sung Kang, and Elsa Pataky.

A box office crusher, the film raked in a whopping $626.1 million against its $125 million budget with the fresh storyline and performances from its returning and new cast celebrated by critics. Although his “franchise Viagra” comments may come across as bragging, those giving feedback on the film were quick to attach Dwayne Johnson’s name with one of the major reasons the fifth installment wasn’t the nail in the coffin for the franchise.

Perhaps the wildest part about what would become a legacy character in the Fast & Furious series was that Dwayne Johnson was not initially the man that producers had in mind for the part of Luke Hobbs.

The energy of the character was built with Tommy Lee Jones in mind but after Vin Diesel saw a comment on his Facebook page with a fan pushing for a team-up between him and The Rock, the star took it to Lin and they reformed Luke Hobbs for the Moana star. Diving deep into the character, Johnson headed back to the gym to get even beefier than before to drive home the fact that Hobbs was a real threat to Dominic and the rest of his team.

From Fast Five, Dwayne Johnson would continue to reprise his role as Luke Hobbs in the next three follow-up films with his own spin-off alongside Jason Statham in Hobbs & Shaw. This would, however, be the last time that Johnson would sign on for another Fast & Furious production as, some personal business between him and leading man Vin Diesel, drove him away from wanting to participate from there on out. 

The Rock Returns For Fast X And More

At the beginning of filming for the latest title, Fast X, Vin Diesel called out his former co-star, asking him to come back in to round out the franchise for their friend and late star, Paul Walker. A semi-sequel to Fast Five, Fast X seemed to be ready to happen without Johnson. But “The Rock” wound up surprising everyone with a cameo. Dwayne Johnson is expected back for Fast X: Part 2 and will also lead another spin-off film.