"Caught between a Rock and a Die Hard place"
is a decent, unremarkable action movie with a handful of cool moments that are dragged down by bare-bones character work and a dry script.
Dwayne Johnson stars as former FBI agent and amputee Will Sawyer who is hired to assess the security of the tallest building in the world - a skyscraper called The Pearl. Unfortunately, a group of terrorists infiltrate The Pearl and start a fire that threatens to engulf the whole building. Will's family is trapped in the residential area, while the building's owner, Zhao Long Ji (Chin Han) and his security are on the roof.
It's up to Will to save his family and stop the bad guys - but first, he needs to find a way back into the building. Perhaps a ludicrously impractical jump from a crane will do the trick?
is not a bad movie, nor is it a great one. It's like action movie comfort food - overly familiar, yet suitably engaging. The Pearl may be the tallest skyscraper in the world, but its building blocks are a mix of stock characters and plot beats.
The movie has a good sense of momentum, as there's rarely a dull moment. the characters are generic, but they're not unlikable. The action scenes have a small, but appreciable selection of genuine thrills. These include the now infamous crane jump, which is exceedingly silly - but yeah, it's also kind of cool. It's actually one of several times in which Will finds himself hanging on for dear life from a tremendous height. Surprisingly, it's fairly effective each time.
biggest problem is that the writing is dry and to the point. Most of the dialogue is either dull exposition or generic platitudes about family and love. The lack of drama is one thing, but this movie doesn't seem to know how to have fun. Think of all the cool, memorable and genuinely funny lines from a movie like Die Hard
doesn't have a 'Welcome to the party, pal!', let alone a 'Yippee-kayee, motherf-----!'. There's one moment that gets a genuine laugh, two instances where Will Sawyer makes a quip about duct tape and uh, that's about it. It just seems wasteful to have a big personality like Dwayne Johnson as your lead and not take full advantage of it. Even Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
The closer the movie is to the end, the harder it is to care. It never completely wears out its welcome, but it does get progressively less interesting - and it's not like it was an edge-of-your-seat roller-coaster ride to begin with.
This is partly due to the aforementioned lack of fun, but also because the plot gets dumber. The crowning moment of stupidity goes to the way Will Sawyer takes out the main villain, played by Roland Møller - that man really needs to get his eyes and ears checked because the trick he falls for is utterly ridiculous.
It is nice to see an action movie hero who is an amputee and Will Sawyer's prosthetic leg does play a part in most action scenes. Is most of what he goes through unrealistic and absurd? Yes, but not more so than your typical big action movie lead. Amputees can be ridiculous blockbuster heroes too. Neve Campbell, who plays Will's wife Sarah, also gets to kick at least a little ass.
One final note - the kids are easily the most forgettable characters of the bunch. One of them has asthma - which has so little bearing on the plot it might as well not have been included - and the other asks her mother 'Are we gonna die?' in the same tone of voice that someone might say 'What's for breakfast?'.
doesn't play to is strengths, or at least not all of them. It's a good enough popcorn movie to pass the time, but it has the ingredients to be something more - maybe not a great movie, but definitely a better one.