Film review: Skyscraper leans heavily on charisma and wit of The Rock

Neve Campbell and Dwayne Johnson in Skyscraper
Damon Smith

THIRTY years after Bruce Willis defied logic and gravity to thwart Teutonic terrorists in Die Hard, Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson performs similar acts of vertiginous heroism in writer-director Rawson Marshall Thurber's high-rise, lowbrow adventure.

Skyscraper, or Die Hardly Believable as it might have been titled in an early draft, embraces the inherent preposterousness of its dramatic set-up and the leading man's ability to overcome adversity with barely a trickle of sweat.

"This is stupid," growls Johnson as his amputee security expert stares out of the shattered window of a 220th floor penthouse at the twinkling lights of Hong Kong and prepares to shuffle along an exterior ledge to locate a pesky security panel.

His words are an apt assessment of Thurber's picture, which invites us to power off our thought processes and enjoy the base delights of one hulking man outwitting an army of gun-toting terrorists using ingenuity, brute force and everyday hardware supplies.

"If you can't fix it with duct tape, you ain't using enough duct tape," quips Johnson's lifesaver during one outrageous action sequence.

That sense of playfulness infuses every glossy frame as he leaps gaping chasms and breaks his fall using his fingertips or employs upper body strength to bear the weight of a collapsing bridge while his wife tightrope-walks their son to safety above a raging inferno.

Former FBI Hostage Rescue Team leader Will Sawyer (Johnson) lost one of his legs during an extraction mission in snowbound Minnesota. Sarah (Neve Campbell) was the attending surgeon that day and Will fell in love with this angel in scrubs during his hard-fought recovery.

Ten years later, Will and Sarah are married with a daughter, Georgia (McKenna Roberts), and asthmatic son, Henry (Noah Cottrell). The doting father is now a security expert and thanks to a recommendation from an old FBI buddy (Pablo Schreiber), Will has spent six months rigorously assessing the safety of The Pearl, the world's tallest superstructure owned by developer Zhao Lin Ji (Chin Han).

"You know this place better than the architect." Sarah reassures her husband.

A band of terrorists led by Scandinavian thug Botha (Roland Moller) and henchwoman Xia (Hannah Quinlivan) storms The Pearl and sets the 96th floor ablaze.

Will is framed for the crime and must evade police as he regains access to the flaming structure, where Sarah and the children are trapped above the inferno.

Skyscraper snorts derisively in the face of plausibility and trades effectively on the inherent charisma, self-deprecating wit and physical presence of Johnson.

Campbell is woefully underused but does showcase her character's basic IT skills at a crucial juncture and Moller's two-dimensional antagonist splashes on menace like cheap cologne.

Composer Steve Jablonsky, who provided the soundtrack to Transformers: The Last Knight, delivers another deafening symphony to complement the digitally rendered pyrotechnics.

SKYSCRAPER (12A, 102 mins) Action/Thriller/Romance. Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Chin Han, Roland Moller, McKenna Roberts, Noah Cottrell, Pablo Schreiber, Hannah Quinlivan. Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber

RATING: 6/10

Released: July 12 (UK & Ireland)

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access