Skyscraper sucks Dwayne Johnson into a see-saw battle

US actor Dwayne Johnson attends the premiere of "Skyscraper" on July 10, 2018 in New York City. (AFP)
Updated 19 sec ago

Skyscraper sucks Dwayne Johnson into a see-saw battle

CHENNAI: Most disaster films seem alike, with amazing action and thrilling turnabouts, but a few have a soul and a spirit, such as "Titanic," whose images of tragic love and longing woven into class conflict remain with us for ever. Rawson Marshall Thurber’s "Skyscraper" may not be quite as memorable, but it has a spirited story to tell us.

Actor Dwayne Johnson, a retired professional wrestler seen in movies such as "Fast and Furious," "Walking Tall," "Central Intelligence" and "Baywatch," has a disastrous beginning in "Skyscraper." As Federal Bureau of Investigation operative Will Sawyer, he loses his leg during a conflict and retires with a prosthetic limb as a security consultant, and a combat-surgeon wife, Sarah (Neve Campbell).

A decade later, Sawyer is hired by Hong Kong real-estate magnate Zhao Long Ji (Singaporean star Chin Han), to protect his pet project, The Pearl, three times taller than New York’s Empire State Building and even the Burj Khalifa — and labelled as the “safest super structure.” But before Zhao can sell the apartments in the building, Sawyer’s wife and two children move in, and disaster strikes. Terrorists with a personal axe to grind steal the safety control drive from Sawyer, deactivate The Pearl’s alarm system as well as water sprinklers, and set the 240-story edifice on fire. Their motive is to steal a flash drive locked up in Zhao’s penthouse in the building.

Sawyer, who is then outside, begins a death-defying mission to save his family and perhaps Zhao, but not before he is made a suspect by the Hong Kong cops, but cheered at every swing, every daredevil act by the onlookers down below. There are very tense moments when Sarah, trying to escape the inferno, is separated from her children, and the children themselves end up on a burning ridge with the villains trying to shoot them dead.

Skyscraper, despite its emotional highs, is a film that requires you to leave your thinking caps at home. This is no work of logic or realism, more about feats that defy belief from a man with an artificial leg. But if you are ready to crunch popcorn, sip cola and let yourself go along with Sawyer’s see-saw battle, "Skyscraper" may be worth the time and money.

Tom Cruise’s broken ankle was no setback to the making of this ‘Mission: Impossible’

Updated 30 July 2018

Tom Cruise’s broken ankle was no setback to the making of this ‘Mission: Impossible’

In previous “Mission: Impossible” movies, action often came first, and story second.

It’s almost ironic then that when writer-director Christopher McQuarrie and Tom Cruise decided to focus on character for the sixth movie, “Fallout,” they’d end up with the most exciting “Mission” ever — wall-to-wall with stunning set pieces in helicopters, trucks, motorcycles. Even a three-man fight in a public restroom is a standout sequence that rivals the very real danger Cruise put himself in (106 times) to do a parachute jump from 25,000 feet in the skies above Abu Dhabi.

McQuarrie, 50, a Hollywood journeyman who won an Oscar 22 years ago for writing “The Usual Suspects,” has been one of Cruise’s go-to guys for a decade, directing “Jack Reacher” and 2015’s “Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation.”

“We did not set out to make you know the biggest, giant-est, craziest, most outrageous ‘Mission’ ever. I said to Tom I want to make a more emotional movie, a more character-driven movie that’s more about Ethan,” he recently told the Associated Press.

“The things I’m most proud of are the emotional moments. Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson) following Ethan is the definition of what we call shoe leather. That survived four test screenings. The fact that I cut two giant stunts out that were in the first trailer, and yet that scene stayed? That’s something I’m immensely proud of.”

Despite the emotional side of the film, adrenaline junkies will not be disappointed.

“We come up with big crazy ideas in the middle of the movie, so people are forced to scramble to put them together and it’s always a race against the clock.”

However, with high-octane stunts come the risk of injury and the crew were forced to confront that reality when Cruise broke his ankle on set.

“Tom went right into physical therapy. And I went into the editing room and started to assemble the movie. I was able to make the discoveries I normally wouldn’t have made until well after the film was finished.”