|Worth seeing:||for the Rock's super-human heroics as he channels Bruce Willis & Tom Cruise to save his family from a towering inferno & the criminals who set it alight, with totally unbelievable but satisfyingly eye-popping stunts|
|Director:||Rawson Marshall Thurber|
|Featuring:||Dwayne Johnson, McKenna Roberts, Neve Campbell, Noah Cottrell, Noah Taylor, Roland Møller, Adrian Holmes, Byron Mann, Chin Han, Hannah Quinlivan, Kevin Rankin, Matt O'Leary, Pablo Schreiber, Tzi Ma|
|Released:||12th July 2018|
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Former military man Will Sawyer (Dwayne Johnson) lost a leg, trying to end a siege during a stint with the FBI.
Looking for an easier life, he’s now working as a private safety and security consultant.
He undercuts much bigger firms to win a contract at the world’s tallest skyscraper; The Pearl, in Hong Kong, stands more than 200 storeys high but only the commercial units in the bottom half are open to the public – the building’s billionaire owner Zhao (Chin Han) doesn’t want to open the residential half until Will is satisfied that it’s safe.
Zhao puts him, his wife Sarah (Neve Campbell) and their kids up in one of the apartments, while he’s completing the final checks. But while Will is on his way to inspect the off-site security control centre, a group of ruthless criminals sneak into the skyscraper, disable its fire-safety system and set the building alight.
As Zhao and his entourage head for the heli-pad on the roof and the bottom of half of The Pearl is evacuated, a desperate Will has to break back into the towering inferno to save his family.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
This is what the summer blockbuster is all about – monstrously silly but hugely entertaining.
It’s film-making by numbers, with each scene calculated to set up a pay-off later in the film.
Such as it is, the plot is flimsy and the action is totally unbelievable – but it doesn’t really matter who’s doing what and why. A one-legged Rock is trying to save his family from a towering inferno, while extortionists are trying to fleece the billionaire owner – what more could you want on the weekend that England’s progress was halted in the World Cup?
As well as gawping at the eye-popping, heart-stopping stunts, there’s almost as much fun to be had from guessing which of the supporting characters will turn out to be treacherous turn-coats and how they’ll meet their inevitable blockbuster villain end.
He climbs up a crane, a hundred storeys high, more quickly than an express lift – with just one leg remember – and comes up with the most original uses of his prosthetic leg that you could imagine.
However preposterous the plot points or the action sequences, most audiences will gasp and grip the edge of their seats in all the right places and a cynical ploy of having most of the action viewed by cheering crowds on the ground (who in reality wouldn’t be able to see anything more than a dot at that height), adds the “full cinema” effect, encouraging you to join in with them. Similarly cynical was the decision to set it in Hong Kong and pepper the supporting cast with some of the biggest names in Chinese cinema, guaranteeing box office takings in the world’s two biggest markets as high as The Pearl.
At a little over an hour and a half, the film-makers resist the temptation to keep on giving – unless, perhaps, they just ran out of ideas – but unusually for a moderately mindless piece of popcorn entertainment, it doesn’t feel bloated.
There are obvious comparisons to be drawn with a whole host of big budget films – most obviously Bruce Willis breaking into a besieged skyscraper in Die Hard and The Towering Inferno, but also Tom Cruise climbing around outside the world’s tallest skyscraper in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and Nicolas Cage rescuing people from the burning twin towers in World Trade Center – the latter raising an issue of the relationship between fact and fiction; are people in Kensington and Chelsea, where a public inquiry is ongoing into the Grenfell Tower tragedy, going to want to see a film about a one-legged army veteran breaking into a burning skyscraper to save people facing almost certain death?