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It’s late in Skyscraper when Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson utters the perfect summation of his new film.
Having wrapped his hands and feet in duct tape and tied a rope around his waist, Johnson is ready to crawl outside the giant building. Staring down at the ground far below, he mutters, “This is stupid.” Johnson is half-right; Skyscraper is stupid, and it’s also stupid fun.
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Johnson plays Will Sawyer, a former-FBI agent and amputee tasked with overseeing security for Hong Kong’s The Pearl, the world’s tallest skyscraper. It turns out he is a pawn for terrorists, using him to gain access to the tower and its architect Zhao Long Ji (Chin Han). The attack leads to Sawyer’s wife Sarah (Neve Campbell) and kids being trapped high up in the burning structure, and Sawyer having to get to them and get them out.
Skyscraper is stupid, and it’s also stupid fun.
Skyscraper’s influences are incredibly obvious, with its story a combination of the action classics Die Hard and The Towering Inferno. A lot is cribbed from the former film, including terrorists led by a heavily-accented European (Roland Møller), quick thinking, wisecracks (one of which is from The IT Crowd), and one particular death scene. There’s even some MacGyver in there as he rarely uses a gun, often finding resourceful uses for duct tape. The pilfering should work against Skyscraper, but writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber has taken the best parts of those movies to make a tight B-grade film almost as enjoyable, with Johnson’s charm holding it together.
Johnson has been a reliable action star since his hulking mass first graced the big screen, and he is no different here. The only change is his character is an amputee, leading him hopping in some scenes when he loses his prosthetic leg—easily forgotten thanks to the extraordinary feats he performs. His co-stars play their roles straight, mostly there to ogle at Johnson’s larger-than-life personality light up the room. Even with the cringe-inducing lines he’s given, he delivers them with a wink that makes them funnier than they have any right to be.
The only reason people see a Dwayne Johnson film is for the action. While it isn’t as mad as the Fast And Furious franchise and the results are predictable, there is still something thrilling about it. An early highlight is a fight scene between Johnson and Pablo Schreiber, with the latter proving himself as great an action star as he was loathed as Pornstache in Orange Is The New Black. The biggest thrills come when watching Johnson scale the skyscraper, especially the physically-and-mathematically-impossible leap from a giant crane in to the building as depicted on the film’s poster. It may not be realistic or smart, but Skyscraper is a joy to watch.
Skyscraper is in cinemas now.
OUR RATING: 7/10
DIRECTOR: Rawson Marshall Thurber
PRODUCER: Legendary Pictures
CAST: Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Noah Taylor, Pablo Schreiber
STICK THIS NEXT TO: Die Hard, The Towering Inferno, San Andreas