Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5. USA, 2018. Legendary Entertainment, Flynn Picture Company, Seven Bucks Productions. Screenplay by Rawson Marshall Thurber. Cinematography by Robert Elswit. Produced by Beau Flynn, Hiram Garcia, Dwayne Johnson, Rawson Marshall Thurber. Music by Steve Jablonsky. Production Design by Jim Bissell. Costume Design by Ann Foley, Luca Mosca. Film Editing by Julian Clarke, Michael L. Sale.
A war veteran who was once a member of an elite hostage rescue team, Dwayne Johnson is now permanently injured and living a much sweeter life as a security expert whose newest assignment is in Hong Kong. A nutty billionaire has built a ridiculously tall building in the middle of the city, a gargantuan desk ornament whose lower commercial half is open for business, while the opening of the residential top half is pending Johnson’s approval. Bad guys get access to the building’s security codes while our hero is away from his post and set the place on fire, framing him for the deed and setting the authorities on his tail while trapping his wife (Neve Campbell) and two children in the giant edifice. Right from the outset, this combination of Die Hard and The Towering Inferno fails to live up to the tradition of great, trashy Irwin Allen disaster films, spending liberally on fancy visual effects but scaling down on plot and characters. Why set that large a building on fire when there’s only one family living in it? Have the story take place when it’s open and give us the opportunity to see thousands of people running for their lives! It’s not the worst thing you’ve ever seen, the cast is dedicated and having cinematographer Robert Elswit on the job really helps things a lot, but it’s far too slim an experience for all the effort it expends.