Review / ‘Skyscraper’ (M) ** and a half

IN 1988’s big actioner “Die Hard”, Bruce Willis stopped bad guys from destroying an airport terminal.

In some way, “Skyscraper” is a hybrid of that theme and its 1974 brother “The Towering Inferno” in which Paul Newman and Steve McQueen saved most of the people in the penthouse of a blazing building. Yes, reader, it’s another “disastrous fire that can’t be fought from the ground” movie.

The world’s tallest (3500-feet) building, is a hotel where things open, shut, heat, cool, slide, rise, lower, in short, activate just about every mundane service that well-heeled guests might desire by tapping the appropriate icon on a hand-held tablet.

A decade after a kidnapper used an IED to resolve a hostage situation, the FBI agent in charge Will Sawyer (Dwayne Johnson) has become the consultant engaged to confirm the building’s safety compliances before the insurance company will accept the risk. The building’s owner has provided a pre-opening freebie on the 96th level for Will’s wife Sarah (Neve Campbell) and eight-year-old twins Henry and Georgia while daddy’s checking details.

Botha (Roland Møller) leads a bunch of trigger-happy goons only too willing to behave badly. About midway into the film, writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber reveals what it’s all about. Financing for the building has been perhaps a little dodgy. Botha has been hired to get the details saved on a stick in the owner’s safe.

Botha’s not going to get that stick until he has the building, with Sarah and the children in seemingly inescapable captivity. Will has to save them. Oh, did I mention that after that IED went off, Will was taken to a US Navy hospital where surgeon Sarah repaired ugly facial blemishes but regrettably had to amputate his lower left leg?

A production of Legendary Pictures, joining Marvel and DC in mining the lode that grew from comic books, “Skyscraper” might never have reached a cinema near you without the contribution of Industrial Light and Magic in creating its more scary and/or improbable visuals. But despite an estimated production cost of $US125 million, it’s at best only a potboiler.

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