Good news: Dwayne Johnson’s take on Towering Inferno is at least better than his Earthquake update, San Andreas. The pleasures here come from watching an extraordinary physical specimen go through a lo-tech workout routine thousands of feet above the ground as he tries to rescue his family from a burning superskyscraper. Ladder climb (up a crane tower), monkey bars (along the crane arm), pull ups (at the edge of a building), sit ups (inverted, natch), rope climb — you get the idea. Oh, and just to hammer home the “extraordinary” part, he does it all while missing the lower half of one leg. He’s further hampered by his reluctance to pick up a gun — after the botched FBI operation that took his limb, he’s laid his weapon down for some reason. And of course, the bad guys responsible for the fire use his familial attachments against him. But none of these deterrents matter much, not when our man has plenty of duct tape, a thorough technical knowledge of the building’s system ops, and his own marvelous muscles. It’s not a good movie, exactly — the action is clumsy, the structure creaks, the plot is an afterthought, et alia — but it’s not unpleasant, either. The sort of thing you might watch if you came across it while channel surfing. Just look at that man work. Written and directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber. (2018) — Matthew Lickona
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