Towering redux: Dwayne Johnson's 'Skyscraper' is passable summer fare

Global icon DWAYNE JOHNSON leads the cast of Legendary’s "Skyscraper" as former FBI Hostage Rescue Team leader and U.S. war veteran Will Sawyer, who now assesses security for skyscrapers. On assignment in China he finds the tallest, safest building in the world suddenly ablaze, and he’s been framed for it. A wanted man on the run, Will must find those responsible, clear his name and somehow rescue his family who is trapped inside the building ... above the fire line.{ }(Universal Pictures)

2.5 out of 5 Stars
Rawson Marshall Thurber
Writer: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Pablo Schreiber
Genre: Action, drama
Rated: PG-13 for sequences of gun violence and action, and for brief strong language

SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) - Synopsis: When his family is trapped in a burning, high-tech skyscraper, Will Sawyer will stop at nothing to save them.

Review: Trapped somewhere between "Towering Inferno," "Die Hard," "Mission: Impossible" and "MacGyver," "Skyscraper" is the latest Dwayne Johnson action film to hit the multiplexes. Thankfully, the film is better than his last effort, "Rampage," but be warned that "Skyscraper" is on the darker and more violent side of his recent films.

I tend to like Johnson more than I like the films in which he appears. He’s a prototypical action star in the sense that he hasn’t shown much range as an actor and his roles all blur together, but he oozes tough-guy charisma and many careers have been built on less.

“Skyscraper” isn’t a smart film, but it does feature the sort of over-the-top stunts that help compensate for aspects of the narrative that don’t make much sense. There’s a little bit of near-future science fiction at play in the movie as a wealthy businessman is on the cusp of opening his ultra-high-tech skyscraper that feels like an updated take on the building featured at the center of J.G. Ballard’s novel “High-Rise” in that it is self-sustaining and offers the amenities that would allow its residents to never need to leave the structure.

Johnson stars as Will Sawyer, a small-time security specialist with a military background, who is offered the opportunity by an old friend to assess the ultra-modern building’s safety and security as part of the final checks before the structure’s residential levels will officially open. Sawyer’s wife and twin children have come along in hopes of catching a glimpse of Hong Kong’s pandas.

Common sense gets thrown out the window as the building’s designers have created a facility that is completely automated and controlled from an off-site facility. There’s no real manual backup available on site. What could possibly go wrong?

What follows is a predictable action film that edges further and further away from reality as it goes along. It entertains, but there isn’t much substance to latch on to. The film’s antagonist is generic and unmemorable, the secondary characters -- both good and bad -- are equally as nondescript. We have good guys, bad guys and bystanders. It’s a world made of cardboard characters with Johnson grinning in the middle of it all. It's nice to see Neve Campbell back on the screen, even if she isn't really given much to do.

If you like Johnson and nearly-mindless action films, you’ll probably enjoy “Skyscraper.” If you’re looking for a movie with memorable characters and a gripping or inventive storyline, you won’t find that here.