Big tower, big star, big film

South Burnett Times - - PULSE - Seanna Cronin

EX­PECT to see Dwayne John­son as you’ve never seen him be­fore in his lat­est ac­tion block­buster, Sky­scraper.

The global film star por­trays a dad who doesn’t have all the an­swers, or the phys­i­cal stamina to flaw­lessly, or sin­gle­hand­edly, save the day.

“We’ve all seen him as a big ac­tion star and he’s pretty used to punching his way out of any prob­lem,” di­rec­tor Raw­son Mar­shall Thurber says.

“Dwayne’s my favourite ac­tor on the planet, but in all of his films un­til this one he’s sort of been in­vul­ner­a­ble, bul­let­proof al­most. That’s great and he does it re­ally well, but I wanted to see him be vul­ner­a­ble. I wanted to see him strug­gle, have doubt, and barely sur­vive the ad­ven­ture.

“It’s a big credit to him be­cause he’s the big­gest movie star in the world and he doesn’t have to show vul­ner­a­bil­ity.

“What I wanted to do and what Dwayne was ex­cited about was cre­at­ing a char­ac­ter who had to think his way out of a prob­lem.”

John­son plays Will Sawyer, a for­mer FBI hostage res­cue team leader and US war vet­eran who leaves the line of duty af­ter a trau­matic ac­ci­dent that costs him the lower part of his leg.

Now, years later, he has a fam­ily and makes a liv­ing as­sess­ing se­cu­rity for sky­scrapers.

While on as­sign­ment in Hong Kong eval­u­at­ing the world’s tallest and sup­pos­edly safest build­ing, his fam­ily is put in dan­ger when the floor they’re stay­ing on is sud­denly set ablaze.

Named as the au­thor­i­ties’ num­ber one sus­pect be­cause of his spe­cial se­cu­rity clear­ance, Sawyer must res­cue his fam­ily from the burn­ing build­ing while also evad­ing cap­ture. “My last pic­ture, Cen­tral

In­tel­li­gence, was an ac­tion com­edy and it cer­tainly was a bridge to this film, which is a straight ac­tion movie,” Thurber says.

“I’ve been wait­ing to make an ac­tion movie since I was eight years old when I saw

Raiders of the Lost Ark. This is all my eight-year-old boy ac­tion fan­tasies wrapped up into one glossy ac­tion pic­ture. It pays homage to the ones I loved grow­ing up in the late ’80s and early ’90s like Die Hard, The Fugi­tive and The Tow­er­ing In­ferno.”

Thurber is proud of the fact his lead­ing man is an am­putee, some­thing he’s never seen in a big-bud­get ac­tion film be­fore.

“I’d never seen an am­putee hero (on screen) and we’re ex­cited to be the first ma­jor ac­tion pic­ture to do that,” he says.

“The guy on the poster is an am­putee and that’s long over­due, frankly. What was great was get­ting to know more about the com­mu­nity and talk­ing to am­putees, who were so inspiring. Many of them would say they were a bet­ter per­son af­ter their am­pu­ta­tion than be­fore. That was re­ally mov­ing to me and I wanted to honour that com­mu­nity the best I could.”

Sky­scraper also saves plenty of ac­tion for its fe­male stars, led by Neve Camp­bell as Sawyer’s wife Sarah.

“The char­ac­ter is named af­ter my wife Sarah – you’ve got to score points where you can (laughs),” says Thurber.

“If my wife and kids were trapped in a burn­ing build­ing, she’s not go­ing to wait for me to save her, she’s go­ing to take ac­tion. My wife is any­thing but a damsel in dis­tress and it made per­fect sense to me that nei­ther would Neve’s char­ac­ter.

“Any­one Dwayne’s char­ac­ter mar­ried would have to be a badass.”

Cen­tral In­tel­li­gence and Sky­scraper ap­pear to be just the be­gin­ning of Thurber and John­son’s col­lab­o­ra­tion.

Thurber re­turns to the di­rec­tor’s chair next year for

Red No­tice, which will star John­son and Won­der

Woman’s Gal Gadot. “Dwayne and I share the same value sys­tem and share the same love of movies,” he says.

“Red No­tice is the next one. It starts shoot­ing on April 1. It’s a big in­ter­na­tional heist pic­ture, again with Univer­sal (Pic­tures). Yes, Dwayne will be go­ing toe-to-toe with Won­der Woman.”

Sky­scraper is show­ing at Kin­garoy Cin­ema.

PHOTO: SUP­PLIED BY UNIVER­SAL PIC­TURES

STRUG­GLE: Dwayne John­son in a scene from the movie Sky­scraper.

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