Let’s be honest: whenever we see that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is starring in a film, we know that the movie isn’t likely to be mentioned much when award season comes around. However, audiences can generally bank on him chewing up the scenery and having a blast of a time doing it. When Johnson is having fun (as he was in Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle), it echoes through the screen and is infectious with the audience. At least it elevates it to the level of popcorn-fun.
Unfortunately, somehow, writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber (who previously served the same role in such cinematic classics as Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story and Central Intelligence) manages to suck all the life out of the film, and it lays there like a dead fish.
Also starring are Neve Campbell, Pablo Schreiber, Ng Chin Han, and Roland Møller in the key roles. The film’s premise is that security consultant, Will Sawyer, has moved with his family for the grand opening of the upper half of a super-skyscraper called The Pearl. His job is to do an in-depth analysis of the safety and security systems of the building and to certify it safe so it can be fully opened to the public.
It turns out that some Eastern European gangsters have designs of their own on the building and set out to capture the owner, who is holed up in the penthouse. So it’s Dwayne having to get back in and rescue his family and his employer all the while the bad guys are trying to stop him. It’s a solid premise for some fun, but it never really lands.
Never once do the characters connect with the action, and the plot beats are directly lifted from other films, primarily Die Hard. But while Bruce Willis was able to connect with his character and the late Alan Rickman will be forever remembered for his role as bad guy Hans Gruber, Moller’s Kores Botha almost blends into the ranks of the bad guys — you won’t remember him five minutes after you leave the theater.
There’s often prolific liberties taken with physics in these types of action films, but when the image on the poster of Dwayne’s leap from the crane to the building emerged and audiences laughed not with it, but at it — there’s a problem. When Fast and the Furious fans can watch a movie and say “that’s just silly,” that’s saying something.
How a film this expensive looking and with a decent cast wound up just being entirely unable to evoke any kind of tension or actual interest from an audience is beyond me. Anytime a scene even begins to get interesting, it’s because it is a callback to a scene from Die Hard, and rather than being in the moment, you find yourself thinking about how it was done better the first time around. Look to find this one on DVD/4K very, very soon.
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