‘Skyscraper’ stands tall on Rock-solid foundation

(CNN) – The “Die Hard” comparisons are inevitable with “Skyscraper,” the latest action vehicle for the very busy Dwayne Johnson. While the movie doesn’t quite scale those heights, it delivers similar old-fashioned, popcorn-y pleasures with its Rock-solid foundation, with a bare-bones plot and plenty of stunts that do for tall buildings what “Jaws” did for sharks.

The architectural plans for “Skyscraper” involve tapping into the robust international theatrical marketplace, which explains why the towering structure — at 225 stories, the world’s tallest building — resides in Hong Kong, while a stock ruthless villain with a European accent (Danish actor Roland Moller) leads the charge to bring it down.

Johnson, meanwhile, plays a version of the same character he’s portrayed countless times before, only with one added degree of difficulty: His Will Sawyer (even the name sounds generic) gets around on a prosthetic foot, having lost it in an opening sequence that explains why this former Marine and FBI agent is now a settled-down family man, running a private-security outfit that’s enlisted to run a systems check on the building by its mogul developer (Chin Han from “The Dark Knight”).

The family element (with Neve Campbell as Will’s wife) is key, providing the rationale for Will — the latest version of the right guy in the wrong place — to engage in a series of death-defying feats, in much the way Arnold Schwarzenegger hit the kill (and kill and kill) switch when his daughter was kidnapped in “Commando.”

It helps, too, that much like Bruce Willis’ incarnation of this predicament, Johnson maintains a sense of the situation’s absurdity, announcing “This is stupid” right before he goes clambering down the side of the impossibly tall edifice in one of the many vertigo-inducing stunts, while a crowd watches the show unfold from the streets far below.

Still, writer-director Rawson Marshall Thurber (who previously teamed with Johnson on “Central Intelligence”) doesn’t sweat the details, comfortably moving from one threat to the next. The same mentality largely defines the way that Johnson clearly doesn’t overthink his roles, which explains how he can have starred in “Baywatch” (a sandy dud), “Jumanji” (a major hit), “Rampage” (an utterly forgettable monster mash) and now this in roughly a year’s time.

“Skyscraper” stands tall enough to bring Johnson’s recent batting average back to .500. And that will likely mean a sequel — something like “Skyscraper With a Vengeance” — before too long.

“Skyscraper” opens July 13 in the U.S. It’s rated PG-13.

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