Skyscraper's leading man with a difference
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 single-handedly, 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 which costs him the lower part of his leg.
Now, years later, he has a family and makes a living assesses 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 that 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 bad ass."
Central Intelligence and Skyscraper are 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 opens in cinemas tomorrow.