First Hit: Slow beginning, unrelatable and overdone storyline, and there isn't much that saves it from itself.
The one thing about Dwayne Johnson (playing Will Sawyer) is that he’s earnest in his acting and gives his all in each role.
Here, as Will Sawyer, he’s a former FBI leader that made what may have been an error in judgment on a raid. In this error, agents and a family lost their lives, people got burnt, and he lost his lower left leg.
This raid is shown at the beginning of this film. It also shows him lying in the hospital when he meets the doctor (Neve Campbell) that works on him. There is obvious chemistry we know immediately that the doctor will be part of the story.
The film moves ten years into the future and now, as a couple, they have two kids, he has his own building security business, and they are in Hong Kong to analyze the tallest building in the world. If he gives his OK, then the building owner can obtain insurance to open the residential section which are on the upper floors.
However, as required, something goes wrong and we find out that the building owner Zhao Long Ji (Chin Han) has made some enemies and Koras Botha (Roland Moller) is leading a band of turncoats and operatives to set the building on fire to obtain a disk that has revealing information worth a lot of money.
Unbeknownst to Botha, Will’s wife Sarah (Campbell), and their two kids Georgia and Henry (McKenna Roberts and Noah Cottrell respectively), are occupying the upper floors but decides to let them burn, while later using them as hostages.
These events have Will spring into action to save his family from the burning building. This is the main course of the film. To do this he races through the city on a motorcycle, climbs a crane, scurries out to the end of the crane’s arm, jumps into an open space some 97 floors from the ground, and single handedly gets his wife, and son out of the building. However, the desert is his saving his daughter from Botha’s clutches, while his wife, on the ground, saves the building from burning all the way down to the ground.
It’s a bit much although some of the shots looking down while on the crane are a little unnerving, the fanciful reflective, ever changing, panel room was ill conceived and didn’t really add much to the drama. Additionally, the storyline seemed weak in that I didn't provide an overridingly powerful reason for Botha to burn down the whole building and kill a bunch of people.
Johnson always does his best to make this film work. He was a producer as well, so he was vested in this. However, the storyline lacked believability. Campbell was great. She showed strength, intelligence, and an honest caring for her family. Moller was good as the villain. The issue was I didn’t get the motivation for his actions. The destruction he was creating didn’t seem to fit the prize he was seeking. Roberts was wonderful as the daughter. Cottrell was good as the boy who struggled with asthma, although I didn’t seem to think his asthma was relevant or necessary. Han was OK. Rawson Marshall Thurber wrote and directed this film. He knew what he wanted and probably got it, however what he wanted was neither strong nor believable.
Overall: This film was created to show Johnson as an amazing loving father who would do anything for his family, while doing this it also wasn’t believable.