Skyscraper

★ ★ ☆

Dwayne Johnson has saved his family from an earthquake, fought a volcanic demon and prevented a wild, overgrown ape from destroying Chicago. If you gotta life-or-death problem, yo, he’ll solve it. His new film may be his fieriest yet. “Skyscraper” sees him hundreds of stories above the earth, trying to save his family from certain death. Let’s see him revolve that.

Johnson is former FBI Hostage Rescue Team leader and U.S. war veteran Will Ford. After an bomb blast left him with a prosthetic leg he went into business as a security expert for big companies. His latest gig takes him and family, including wife Sarah (Neve Campbell) and twins, to Hong Kong where he will assess the security concerns for a building nicknamed the Eighth Wonder of the World. At three times the height of the Empire State Building, The Pearl is one of the world’s greatest architectural achievements, but is it safe? That’s what billionaire owner Zhao Min Zhi (Chin Han) wants to know. It’s the tallest most advanced building in the world, it’s a vertical city, but, as Ford says, “you have brought with it every single safety and security challenge I can think of. Not only have you brought them all indoors but you have trapped them 240 floors in the air, No one really knows what would happen if things go wrong.”

Of course things go wrong—there’d be no movie otherwise—when some terrible people sabotage the building’s security systems, starting a blaze on the ninety-sixth floor. Ford’s family is trapped above the fire line so our one-legged hero must rescue them while fighting the bad guys and convincing the cops the fire wasn’t his fault.    

“Skyscraper” is the kind of over-the-top action movie that used to star Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone. It’s a manly man movie that values sweaty action over narrative logic, rockin’ schlock over the laws of physics.

It’s Johnson in full-on the video-game hero mode. Fun to watch but whatever high wire antics he gets up to ultimately the stakes aren’t very high. (SPOILER ALERT) The Rock is not going to plunge to his death, leaving his family to become lumps of coal in the world‘s biggest inferno. “Skyscraper” is all about the stunts, the adrenaline and even then they give away the film’s best deed of daring do on the poster and in the trailer.

Johnson is charismatic, has a way with a line but here he is reduced to his most obvious asset, his over developed body, capable of superhuman feats of endurance and skills. He is Hercules a slab of grade A muscle who can power his way out of any situation, most often with a roll of duct tape in tow. (Begging the question, how much did the makers of duct tape pay in product placement. Not since “The Red Green Show” has the sticky stuff been so essential to the plot.) As a man of action he’s second to known, as a character in a film, however, he not as muscular. There’s not much to Will Ford—or any character here—other than a look of grim determination and a flex arm. Even the bad guy, Kores Botha (Roland Møller), is just a Hans Gruber wannabe but without the evil charm or nasty one-liners.

“Skyscraper” is a loud, over-the-top flick. The action may entertain the eye but with no characters to care about all that’s left are plumes of smoke and fire.

2 ½ STARS