What's not to like? Dwayne Johnson is a cool dude. He can do comedy, drama (sorta), and outrageous action; and with his massive physique and chiseled good looks, he commands …
What's not to like? Dwayne Johnson is a cool dude. He can do comedy, drama (sorta), and outrageous action; and with his massive physique and chiseled good looks, he commands the screen every time he walks into a scene. So, who cares if he hasn't been particularly known for his acting chops?
Ever since he dropped his moniker, "The Rock," from the marquee (unless he makes an appearance in a WWE ring), Johnson has marched his way into a top spot as box office gold with only a few missteps. Even after the laughable smackdowns "San Andreas," "Baywatch" and "Rampage," he rebounded with the enormously successful "Jumanji."
Now, he's back with "Skyscraper," a picture that's like "Die Hard" and "The Towering Inferno" tossed into a Hollywood Cuisinart with a soupçon of bad-assery.
Interestingly, the film follows a not-so subtle effort over the past few movies to soften "The Rock's" image. Instead of having him follow the Arnold Schwarzenegger model in which he would more often than not square off against epically evil aliens or bad guys in cheap suits, Johnson keeps his foes eye-to-eye human and the obstacles he encounters relatively tangible -- or at least as real as the digital animators will allow. Plus, he's always given something emotionally grounded to fight for. In this case, it's a loving family who aren't just window dressing.
In the film written and directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber ("Easy A" and "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story"), Johnson portrays a private security expert named Will Sawyer. A brief opening segment reveals the harrowing incident when he was a SWAT team member that left him with the loss of one foot and allowed him to meet his future wife Sarah (Neve Campbell). Now, he assesses security for skyscrapers.
His new job is at the tallest building in the world. Located in Hong Kong, the building called "The Pearl" by its wealthy hyper-innovative builder-owner Zhou Long Ji (Chin Han) offers the most expensive amenities money can buy. But, the company that will grant insurance to this gigantic structure will only sign-off if it is given the green light by Will and his team. As a perk, Will's wife and two kids are provided an apartment on a floor that is yet to be inhabited.
During this sequence, we are introduced to two Maguffins (a plot device in the form of a desired object, or another motivator that the protagonist pursues, often with little or no narrative explanation). One is a small computer tablet that can only be locked using facial recognition, namely Will's. The tablet allows Will to access every part of the building's security system. The other is a small hand-held device Zhou Long Ji keeps with him at all times. You'll have to see the movie to find what that thing is all about.
It is the latter object that a group of bad guys led by Kores Botha (Roland Møller) want to get their hands on for reasons yet to be revealed. Because they need the tablet, their first target is Will. And, part of their initial plan involves setting a fire on the floor where, you guessed it, Will's family is happily enjoying an evening at home.
Needless to say, Thurber's plot puts Will outside at one point, which means he needs to get inside and up more than a hundred floors to get to his family. This is where the audience needs to disconnect their suspension of belief because the things Will does to get to his family would probably pull the arms off Superman. Still, this is a pretty entertaining movie. The special effects are breathtaking and even Johnson's acting has considerably improved. Hey, he's trying.
"Skyscraper" is rated PG-13 for sequences of gun violence and action, and for brief strong language.
It is showing daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.
Also showing in Taos
The following were edited from press materials
Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation
MPAA rating: PG for some action and rude humor
Mitchell Storyteller 7
Mavis (voiced by Selena Gomez) surprises Dracula (Adam Sandler) with a family voyage on a luxury Monster Cruise Ship so he can take a vacation from providing everyone else’s vacation at the hotel.
The rest of Drac’s Pack cannot resist going along. But once they leave port, romance arises when Dracula meets the mysterious ship Captain, Ericka (Kathryn Hahn). Now it’s Mavis’ turn to play the overprotective parent, keeping her dad and Ericka apart.
Little do they know that his “too good to be true” love interest is actually a descendant of Abraham Van Helsing, ancient nemesis to Dracula and all other monsters.
This digitally animated film was directed by Genndy Tartakovsky and featured the voice acting talents of Kevin James, Fran Drescher, Steve Buscemi, Milly Shannon, David Spade, Keegan-Michael Key, and Chris Parnell.
This film will be screened daily.
Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.
MPAA rating: R for language
Movies at the TCA
Forty years after the death of Elvis Presley, two-time Sundance Grand Jury winner Eugene Jarecki’s new film takes the King’s 1963 Rolls-Royce on a musical road trip
From Memphis to New York, Las Vegas, and beyond, the journey traces the rise and fall of Elvis as a metaphor for the country he left behind. In this groundbreaking film, Jarecki paints a visionary portrait of the state of the American Dream and a penetrating look at how the hell we got here. A diverse cast of Americans, both famous and non, join the journey.
A variety of celebrities also appear in the film, such as James Carville, Lana Del Rey, Emmylou Harris, Ethan Hawke, and John Hiatt.
This film will be screened at 2 p.m. Sunday (July 22), and at 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday (July 23-25).
Movies at the TCA film series, Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. For tickets and additional information, call the Taos Center for the Arts at (575) 758-2052 or visit tcataos.org.
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