He could read the phone book and many of us would flock to pay to see the result, such is the power of Dwayne “TheRock” Johnson in 2018. The highest-grossing (and hardest-working) actor on the planet shows no sign of slowing down, with a conveyor belt of action movies on his plate right now – anyone not excited by his team-up with Gal Gadot next year? – that will see his dominance continue even further. Next up on the hit list is Skyscraper, possibly his biggest challenge yet: a mighty erection.
Bringing his usual charm and wit, Johnson stars as Will Sawyer, a former FBI agent who now finds himself in the security game after the film’s opening salvo sees him suffer life-altering injuries. Assigned to oversee the opening of the world’s biggest skyscraper, The Pearl, thanks to his former agency buddy (Pablo Schreiber), he and his family have moved to Hong Kong to test the waters with the building’s creator Zhao (Chin Ha). But Will soon realises he has been thrust into a dangerous battle between Zhao and a local crime syndicate, who take over the building looking for incriminating evidence that is locked away somewhere inside The Pearl.
So far, so Dwayne Johnson. The megastar hasn’t been far from the multiplexes over the last two years, with mutant animals, jungle crusades and being fast and furious as just some of his adventures to light up our screens. It’s a mere couple of months since he took on a giant crocodile on the streets of Chicago and now he’s defying the laws of physics in his latest, a love letter to Die Hard and The Towering Inferno, among others. But, while Skyscraper shares much with each, it never quite hits the same dizzying heights as that superb duo, despite being a decent bit of fun.
Taking a hiatus from his usual comedy leanings, writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber certainly has the action sensibility down well (Central Intelligence surely helped) and brings us some pulsating set-pieces that defy the laws of gravity at times, as well as bringing a real sense of the 240+ storey monolithic building – those who don’t like heights (this reviewer) may want to hold on to their seats just a little harder than the rest. The screenplay, however, is ever so lacklustre and lacks any real conviction, with characters a line-up of typically throw-away bad guys and double crossers and with only Johnson and the brilliant Neve Campbell able to command our attention – a film centred around them a little more as a duo would have been very welcome.
There’s certainly moments to enjoy up and down the many floors of this one, with Johnson again proving he can carry any ridiculous concept with his charisma alone. However, Skyscraper ultimately feels like a bit of a letdown, never truly living up to its premise, which has so much potential.
Scott J Davis | ★★1/2
Powered by Sidelines
Action, Drama, Crime | 15 | UK, 12 July (2018) | Universal Pictures | Dir. Rawson Marshall Thurber| Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Pablo Schreiber, Noah Taylor and McKenna Roberts.