Remember when Hollywood stars would only appear in commercials in foreign countries? Well, Skyscraper may be the blockbuster equivalent, where a big-time Hollywood star appears in a movie more squarely aimed at foreign moviegoers than domestic ones. Dwayne Johnson searches for his inner John McClane as former FBI Hostage Rescue Team leader and veteran Will Sawyer, who lost his leg but found a wife (Neve Campbell) during a domestic disturbance gone wrong. Now, Will has a small security firm with a contract to perform the security review necessary to get the world’s tallest building insured. Of course, bad guys, led by some generic terrorist (the charming Roland Møller), set fire to the building, trapping Will’s wife and two kids inside.
Sure, Die Hard is the obvious structural influence, but Skyscraper is more like a supremely un-woke Snowpiercer. Writer-director Rawson Marshall Thurber—best known for Dodgeball—must have earned this gig by directing and co-writing the Johnson-Kevin Hart team-up Central Intelligence. He mostly built Skyscraper out of recycled Die Hard materials, with little to none of his usual humor. At least he did not drag out the ridiculously obvious betrayals; if you did not see this movie’s couple of villainous reveals coming, you do not watch enough movies.
In the plus column, Johnson totally sells the emotional aspect of his musclebound dad better than ’80s forebears like Ahnuld (get this guy a Commando remake, stat!). Otherwise, Skyscraper is straightforward, uncomplicated action, which, frankly, is pretty unexciting in 2018, Rock or no Rock.