WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Universal's Skyscraper, in theaters now.
Dwayne Johnson is a man of action who, over the years, has brought the legendary Hercules to life, played an avatar trapped within the jungles of a video game, and fought alongside a giant albino gorilla to save Chicago. He's been a CIA agent, a soldier, a helicopter rescue pilot, a lifeguard and even a Scorpion King. But in his latest film, Skyscraper, Johnson takes on a different sort of role
In writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber’s action thriller, Johnson is Will Sawyer, a hostage-rescue FBI agent who loses his leg in an explosion. A decade later, Sawyer is a building security consultant who still packs a punch, and performs feats no mere mortal could accomplish. However, what separates Will Sawyer from Johnson's typical larger-than-life characters is that he's incredibly, relatably human.
We're used to seeing The Rock take on bad guys a few dozen at a time, but that's not Will Sawyer. He sometimes he misses his mark; he falls down. Each battle is a struggle, and none of his death-defying stunts goes according to plan. Sawyer is a man haunted by guilt, and driven by love. Every heroic deed is done for his family. He doesn't aim to kill anyone, but he'll do so when he's forced to.
The film may feature a legion of mercenary antagonists, but make no mistake, Sawyer's real enemy is the flaming inferno that is The Pearl, the 3,500-foot marvel of architecture and technology looming above Hong Kong. Johnson's character spends more time fighting fire and defying gravity in order to save his family than he does punching bad guys. Sometimes an adversary isn't a flesh-and-blood foe but instead a bad situation that tests the protagonist, pushing him to his limits. The character's most heroic moments come not when he's under fire, but when he defies all odds to get a little bit closer to rescuing his family.
In Skyscraper, Johnson's character is more concerned with his family's safety than his own. After what he's been through, he understands that his own life is little sacrifice if it means his wife and daughter will be saved. But he doesn't have to do it all alone. Thanks to his wife Sarah (Neve Campbell), Will is saved from the flames of The Pearl. This time, it's actually someone else who's the hero. Then, once he finally gets back down to the ground, the only thing he cares about is finding her, and his son -- to reunite his family in one loving embrace. Naturally, he gets the opportunity to do just that.
Whatever heroic deed Johnson performs on the big screen, we have no doubt that he is incredible enough to actually pull it off. He is The Rock, after all.But with Skyscraper, the actor scales back on what makes him infallible. Instead, the movie demonstrates his more human side -- and that only makes his character that much more of a hero.
In theaters now, writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber’s Skyscraper stars Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Chin Han, Roland Møller, Noah Taylor, Byron Mann, Pablo Schreiber and Hannah Quinlivan.