Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson‘s latest action-adventure film, Skyscraper, is getting mixed reviews both from critics and the general public. The movie, which hit theaters last Friday, follows the story of Former FBI Hostage Rescue Team leader and U.S. war veteran Will Ford (Johnson), who is framed for setting fire to a skyscraper in China. Now on the run, Ford must find those responsible, clear his name, and somehow rescue his family, who are trapped above the fire line inside the building.
The film has failed to pick up steam in the box office and has a 50 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While many critics admitted that the action flick was thrilling to watch, the consensus seemed to be that the plot was too familiar and formulaic to truly captivate audiences. Several critics claimed it was a more boring version of Die Hard, with Boston Globe critic Ty Burr writing, “As a streaming option on a slow night or a long flight, the movie has its uses. But you’ve seen almost all of this before, with more wit and a better villain.”
The most mixed reviews of the film, however, have come from people with disabilities. Johnson’s character has a prosthetic leg, and many felt that this provided much-needed visibility for people with disabilities in action films.
@TheRock saw “Skyscraper” this weekend I loved it! As a fan, and one who has a disability.I think it is great that you are showing support for those with disabilities as well.
— Justin Malone (@JustinM61153947) July 17, 2018
From the perspective of someone who has a prosthetic leg, I think the movie did a good job portraying what having a prosthetic is like,” contributor Jane Peterson wrote for The Mighty, adding however that “the movie did not nail all aspects.”
Movie critic Kristen Lopez also wrote that, “By not making a big deal of his disability, Will is a character who represents a marked improvement in representation. People with disabilities don’t want their disability to define them, and Will’s doesn’t define his character. It adds to it.”
As a disabled critic never did I think @TheRock and @skyscrapermovie would give me a depiction of disability I actually loved. And I wrote nearly 1300 words about it for @slashfilm https://t.co/0tMUeGE5Jq
— Kristen Lopez (@Journeys_Film) July 13, 2018
However, many viewers believe that it would have been more progressive to hire someone with an actual disability to play the role.
Good on The Rock, but I mean, how about casting directors get ACTUAL DISABLED PEOPLE to play… disabled people in films. https://t.co/FUxV6Cnqy5
— Steven Aquino (@steven_aquino) July 14, 2018
On Monday, Paralympian actress Katy Sullivan penned an open-letter to Johnson in Deadline, in which she said that while he seemed “like a genuinely good dude,” she would rather he turn down roles like this in the future.
Sullivan cited a 2017 study that found that, in last year’s TV season, less than 2 percent of characters were written to have disabilities, and of that tiny margin, 95 percent of the roles were given to able-bodied actors.
“While I am thrilled that a film about [an awesome] veteran and father (who is a unilateral below-the-knee amputee) got greenlit in the first place, the problem is this perpetuates the fact that we’re not given the agency to tell our own stories,” she wrote, making an argument for the need to enable people with disabilities to play roles like the one given to Johnson in Skyscraper.
Johnson has yet to respond to Sullivan’s letter, but he has been tweeting a lot about his support for people with disabilities, as well as re-tweeting positive reviews written by critics with disabilities.
EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Dwayne @TheRock Johnson and @RudermanFdn bring you this exclusive partnership on the importance of auditioning and casting actors with disabilities in #Hollywood! #DisabilityIsDiversity #SKYSCRAPPER
Learn more at: https://t.co/DscOYeSsle pic.twitter.com/Rxyz1Imkes
— Ruderman Family Fdn (@RudermanFdn) July 12, 2018
Thank you so much. My goal was be authentic and do right by those who face the challenges of disabilities. Your words mean a lot to me – thank you. DJ https://t.co/p7qTfYtsDa
— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) July 15, 2018
THANK YOU everyone for the SKYSCRAPER luv this past weekend.
For the first time ever, in a summer blockbuster, the lead character is an amputee.
Not a villain, but the hero.
And for the first time in one of my movies, the FEMALE LEAD is the one SAVING ME.#GThang 😉💪🏾 pic.twitter.com/7B1N8RJTd3
— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) July 17, 2018
For more inspiring words from The Rock, check out Here’s How Dwayne Johnson Overcame His Crippling Depression.
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