‘The Rock’ pulls off gritty performance in ‘Skyscraper’


The hardest working man in showbiz, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, debuts his third blockbuster action flick in nine months this weekend. The descriptively titled “Skyscraper,” which comes on the heels of “Rampage” and “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” is written and directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber, who directed Johnson in the very funny buddy comedy “Central Intelligence.” “Skyscraper” — a sort of reverse “Die Hard,” where a family man breaks into an imposing structure to save his family — scoots by on the thinnest of premises, and an even thinner script.

While it’s a completely disposable story, “Skyscraper” is fascinating simply for Thurber’s fascination with evolving Johnson’s star persona. In “Central Intelligence,” don’t expect to see much of his megawatt grin here. Johnson’s Will Sawyer is tough as nails, using brute force, blunt instruments and plenty of duct tape to rescue his family from a burning building. He barely even touches a gun.

Thurber literally handicaps Will, who loses his leg in a bombing as an FBI rescue team leader 10 years prior to the events of the film. He loses the limb but gains a wife, Sarah (Neve Campbell), the surgeon who operated on him. They’re in Hong Kong with their twins at the tallest skyscraper in the world, The Pearl, where Will is putting in a bid as a security consultant for the self-sustaining city in the sky. Scams, theft, arson and double-crosses ensue, and soon Will is outside The Pearl, which is on fire, trying to get in to save his trapped family as a team of thieves are trying to get out.

One has to wonder if the entirety of “Skyscraper” was reverse-engineered around a single stunt, wherein Will leaps from a construction crane into a crashed-open window of The Pearl. The leap does draw gasps and cheers from the audience —both the one seated in the theater, and the onscreen audience of onlookers watching Will’s exploits on massive news screens on the street.

This depiction of how we see Johnson as an action star, and the twists in his evolution as a performer are what make “Skyscraper” interesting to watch. The charm is turned down, the seriousness turned up and Johnson pulls it off. It’s also a refreshing change to see him have a fully realized romantic partner for once, and Campbell gets her own set of heroics to perform.

Thurber’s storytelling is rote at best, scanty in some places, but the performers sell it with all they’ve got. “Skyscraper” is standard issue, but it makes for a compelling entry in the story of Johnson’s stardom, and his total Hollywood domination.

MOVIE REVIEW

“Skyscraper”

Grade: C

Starring Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell and Chin Han. Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber.

Rated PG-13 for sequences of gun violence and action, and for brief strong language. Check listings for theaters. 1 hour, 42 minutes.

Bottom line: Standard issue, but makes for compelling storytelling



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Living

What’s that red spot? Things to know about rashes and your child
What’s that red spot? Things to know about rashes and your child

Childhood rashes are extremely common and in most cases, they're not serious. It can be worrying though to see hives, welts or other types of rash on your child's skin and you may be confused about what's causing the issue. The following guide will help you understand the causes of rashes and to know when you should be concerned enough to call the...
David Bowie’s first demo found in bread basket, auction set for September
David Bowie’s first demo found in bread basket, auction set for September

A bread basket held a secret of rock ‘n’ roll history -- the first demo track recorded by then unknown David Jones. No not that Davy Jones of Monkees fame, but the singer who would become David Bowie. A demo of “I Never Dreamed”, recorded by a then 16-year-old saxophonist, was found in an old bread basket, The Guardian reported...
Concert review: Smashing Pumpkins treat longtime fans to a dose of pure nostalgia
Concert review: Smashing Pumpkins treat longtime fans to a dose of pure nostalgia

With the pricier tickets topping $100, the long overdue, mostly original four-piece lineup — bassist D’arcy Wretzky wasn’t included — reunion tour of Smashing Pumpkins counted on crowd members in their 40s and 50s longing for some 1990s nostalgia.  And founding members Billy Corgan, Jimmy Chamberlin and James Iha did not...
Concert review and photos: Culture Club, B-52s and Tom Bailey brave the rain to brighten up Chastain
Concert review and photos: Culture Club, B-52s and Tom Bailey brave the rain to brighten up Chastain

From the…And So It Goes Department. On Saturday night, Jason Aldean’s sold-out performance at SunTrust Park was delayed more than an hour because of a severe weather threat – and it never rained. On Sunday night, the blissful ‘80s lineup of Tom Bailey (of Thompson Twins fame), The B-52s and Culture Club sold out State...
Chick-fil-A enters meal-kit market
Chick-fil-A enters meal-kit market

Since the advent of the microwave and the frozen dinner, companies have come up with ways to help the home cook put a meal on the table in minutes. Most recently, that’s meant the rise of meal-kit services, a sector now well-stocked with names like HelloFresh, Blue Apron, Home Chef, Freshly and Plated, and local contenders such as PeachDish and...
More Stories