The raw concept of this movie is heart stopping – a 3500 foot skyscraper…a terrorist on a mission of destruction….a fire trapping a beloved family inside high up above the 95th floor….and a muscly wrestler turned movie star hero on the mission to save the day.
After being blown up during a failed suicide mission as part of a FBI Hostage Rescue Team, Will Sawyer (Dwayne Johnson), is now an amputee who has taken up the job of assessing the security for skyscrapers. He is tasked with doing a full inspection of The Pearl, a 3500 foot skyscraper built within Hong Kong meant to be a mini city in its own… for business and for home. It is structurally sound, self power generating and so well designed that nothing can go wrong within its confines. Especially in the case of fires – unlike other skyscrapers that threaten the floors above the fire line – this one has a fire suppression system that will eliminate and contain the fire to that one floor, while maintaining the access and stability of the other floors.
So with all those safety measures, Sawyer thinks that it’s secure enough to move his family into the building while he does his inspections…despite the building not being open to the public yet.
Within the good graces of the financer of The Pearl, Zhao Long, Sawyer is provided with a tablet that contains full administrative access to The Pearl’s computer system on an offsite security centre.. which can only be unlocked by facial recognition. This sounds like the most intricate and safest technology in existence… what could go wrong. Ah right…. there is always a villain… and in this case it comes in the form of a international terrorist named Kores Botha.
Botha, knows of Zhao’s possession of a drive device that contains all information regrading an extortion shakedown that occurred during the construction of The Pearl, and the further money laundering Botha has been actively doing. Botha, knowing how dangerous this information is, has a goal to obtain and destroy it at any cost.
Botha sets out a plan to have the tablet stolen by his agents, and ultimately have it hacked to allow for him to take over the entire control system for The Pearl, while locking out Zhao from administrate control within the building.
All within this, Botha is also having his men start a fire on the 96th floor, trapping Sawyers family above the fire line. The kicker, with the control in his hands, Botha then disables the fire extinguishing system above the 95th floor. Thus, creating an impenetrable fire line that cuts off all rescue efforts from floors below.
Sawyer, seeing that his family is in danger instructs them to navigate the skyscraper and keep moving higher in attempts to escape the carnage. Unfortunately, he is now a wanted man as the local police has obtained information that he is the only man who has full access to the control systems for The Pearl.
From this point on, it’s all high action and lots of pyro and fast action stunts. Sawyer scales a construction crane, and amazingly makes the jump to enter the skyscraper. He instantly comes across his family, wherein he is able to send his wife Sarah and son flying down an escape elevator, while on a rescue mission when his daughter is taken by Botha. A weapon and fist fight breaks out between Zhao, Sawyer and Botha, ultimately ending with Botha succumbing to his own fiery hell. Lots of fast action in a short amount of time.
Sarah, now safely on the ground, comes across the security tablet. Even though she is only trained as a military doctor, she is able to override the system and essentially reboot it… causing the fire extinguishing system to restart and rapidly extinguishing the flames.
Everyone is safe, and Zhao sets plan to rebuild….end scene.
This movie, while started off with a heart stopping storyline and concept, lost my interest very fast when it turned more into a stunt and unbelievable action type “hero” movie. The movie is ultimately an overblown smoke and mirror show.
The buildup to the fire, a beautiful family, a veteran trying to move on in life, a glorious new super skyscraper… all an amazing storyline…and moving the story at an acceptable pace. Then suddenly the entire story is moving at an accelerated pace, wherein unbelievable stunts occur like jumping from a crane or a single man holding a bridge up that is breaking … or even more that an elevator pod can drop through a wave of flames and destruction at a super fast speed and be brought to the ground gently with the pull of a single brake. Even the matchup to take down Botha happens within minutes and not with much difficulty or skill.
While the action itself was exhilarating to watch, the events eventually became predictable or seemed too unrealistic and so it took away from the overall quality. It bothered me that a lot of the focus was on how :string: Sawyer was…. I mean he has huge muscles…duh!
Still a good movie to watch on a lazy afternoon as a rental..
High Action, But Predicatble
Lots of death defying stunts and heart stopping visuals, but storyline lacks depth once the action starts in the movie.