Race to Witch Mountain (2009)

A la Arnold Schwarzenegger, a lot of the strategy behind making Dwayne Johnson a lovable and relatable movie star and action hero was teaming him with kids in a lot of family friendly blockbusters. Before he became the movie franchise saver, Johnson limped along for a few years trying to find his niche in movies. “Race to Witch Mountain” is a decent vehicle that’s primarily centered on Johnson and conveys a lot of his charm and enthusiasm that’s made him such a huge star today. I wouldn’t call “Race to Witch Mountain” a great movie, but it sure is a fine diversion with a sleek visual sense, and some interesting ideas.

Johnson plays ex-criminal and mob getaway driver Jack Bruno who spends his days driving various colorful characters around his city. Anxious to leave his shady past behind, he is also saving up to buy his dream car. When he meets Sara and Seth, he obliges their request to drive them as far as he can for $15,000. He’s shocked, however, when he learns that they are both aliens with supernatural abilities struggling to get home. Jack Bruno is now faced with myriad problems, as government agents are chasing Seth and Sara, and gangsters from Bruno’s past also are pressuring him to come back to his old trade. To make matters worse, there is a powerful alien assassin named Siphon who wants to murder the twins before they can find their space ship and flee home to prevent an invasion.

This feels like it was going to start an entire series of movies with Sara and Seth, as the movie doesn’t just spend its time on world building, but there’s an obvious indication of more story in the closing credits. As is, it’s a mediocre revisiting of the original films that I liked mainly for expanding on the concept as a whole. Andy Fickman makes good use of special effects, emphasizing on what the original seventies movies couldn’t, and it works. Especially when you consider Anna Sophia Robb and Alexander Ludwig have very good chemistry with one another and with Dwayne Johnson. There’s also the addition of Carla Gugino who is great as a UFOlogist who aides in getting the kids home.

“Race to Witch Mountain” is a solid chase film with Dwayne Johnson front and center, and though it didn’t start a franchise like I suspect it aimed to, I found much of the action and paranormal elements entertaining and exciting.