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Director:   Rawson Marshall Thurber

Cast:   Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Pablo Schreiber, Chin Han, Roland Moller, Hannah Quinlivan, McKenna Roberts, Noah Cottrell, Byron Mann

Rating:   M

Running Time:   102

Australian Distributor:   Universal Pictures Australia

You have to hand it to The Rock (Dwayne Johnson). His upper body does most of the work because he’s playing a character with only one whole leg, the other having been partially blown off by a bomb a decade earlier. This makes him an ideal hero for a vertical action movie, and also makes it possible, while he hangs, for filmmakers to put different things on the green screen behind him.

In Skyscraper, written and directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber, he’s playing Will Sawyer, a former Gold Star Marine and FBI Hostage Rescue Team leader turned cybersecurity genius who has pledged never to handle a gun since the face-off with a murderously despondent father that cost him his leg. The explosion, though wreaking havoc on many men, women, and children, was a blessing in that it introduced him to his wife, Sarah, a Navy surgeon who happened to major in East Asian Studies at Annapolis.

Will and co have landed a major contract to evaluate the Hong Kong skyscraper The Pearl. Run by powerful businessman Zhao Long Ji (Chin Han), the Pearl is about to open its residential area, but matters go awry when the building is attacked by terrorists led by Kores Botha (Roland Møller). With Sarah (Neve Campbell) and their two children trapped inside the burning building, Will must fight his way in to save his family, which inevitably leads him to trying to stop the terrorists.

The wildest sequence is before Will ever gets back into the building, as he uses a massive crane to carry himself above the fireline on the 96th floor. From there the bulk of the film finds Johnson doing his best Tom Cruise impersonation, scaling along walls miles above the city streets, where thousands of anxious on-lookers gasp at his every move. If you’re someone who suffers from vertigo or a fear of heights this is probably not the movie for you as some of the early sequences are pretty stunning. There’s much similarity to the classic disaster films like Towering Inferno, Die Hard and Poseidon Adventure, albeit with technology driving us well ahead of those exploits.  Once inside the towering structure, the action is pretty formulaic and the only thing elevating them is Johnson, who manages to be entertaining in a role that is somewhat toned-down for him.

Neve Campbell’s performance is confident, smart and strong and she has great chemistry with Johnson. Chin Han is always sublimely charming and cool under pressure while Roland Moller‘s character of terrorist mastermind Kores Botha was fiendish perfection.

Overall, it’s hard to go wrong with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson saving people from a 240-storey building. He remains one of the most watchable and bankable stars in the world, and there’s no reason to think he’ll hit rock bottom any time soon.



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