FRIDAY, JULY 12, 2018 -- For the last ten years or so, whenever a Hollywood studio wants to assure a profitable return, it has added one ingredient...Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson who has become such a household name he's been able to shed his former wrestling moniker. Johnson has been in the top two or three highest paid actor group for the last couple of years, earning upwards of $65 million per year.


His movies perform very well. "The Fate of the Furious" earned $1.2 billion dollars globally. "Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle" pulled in $960 million globally. "Moana" - which he added the voice, grossed $643 mil. Even his crap films, namely "Baywatch" ($177 million) and "Rampage" ($425 million) make money. His 2014 dog Hercules brought in $244 million globally off a $100 million budget. He'll be around for a while because Hollywood remembers those who make them megabucks, regardless of their talent level.


No, you will [probably] never see Johnson in a Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen or David O Russell film that requires nuanced dialogue... but as I've always said, Hollywood is in the business of making money, not movies.

Now he comes in yet another actioner where he will fling his 45-year old, 6'5", 260-pound frame through the air even with shards of metal stabbing him and one leg. When are they going to put a cape on this guy and have him save the world singlehandedly?


He stars as Will Sawyer, a former SWAT team member who got his leg blown off when he underestimated a crazed suicide bomber. Sawyer is now a building safety consultant married to the nurse who treated him after his injury (Neve Cambell); they have two children Georgia and Henry. Director Rawson Thurber thankfully waste little time developing the loving family and gets right to focusing on the world's tallest skyscraper which Sawyer is inspecting.


The building, fictitiously located in Hong Kong is owned by billionaire Zhai Long Li (Chin Han) and has every bell and whistle you can imagine including the ultimate state-of-the-art fire suppression system. He needs Shaw's inspection so that he can get insurance for the building. Of course, everything goes wrong when a group of militarized super thugs set the building afire and try to grab Shaw's loving family who happens to be trapped inside.


The premise is goofy, the concept unimaginable, and you will groan more times than you can imagine as Johnson executes stunt after stunt over 200 stories above ground. Meanwhile, his lovely wife must deal with a son with an asthma condition as well as fighting off elite trained military bad guys. There is an obligatory badass girl thug (played by Hannah Quinlivan) who is awkwardly thrown in as well as the cliche driven evil insurance guy (played by Noah Taylor).


This is not a film about profound narratives and well nuanced characters; it's about Dwayne Johnson in action and of course he matter how improbable.


"Skyscraper" is a well placed action film that should sate action junkies for a couple of weeks (until the Tom Cruise action film). It's what you'd get if you smash "Towering Inferno" into "Die Hard" only with Dwayne Johnson in the lead.   -- GRADE C+ --   GEOFF BURTON