There's a scene in 2003's The Rundown in which Dwayne Johnson, finally in a big movie playing a character who's name didn't begin with "The Scorpion" or end with "King," gets a passing nod from a cameo-ing Arnold Schwarzenegger. At the time, many took it as a symbolic passing of the crown from one brawny action man to another brawny action man. That proved... premature. Financially, The Rundown disappointed, and it did not, in fact, serve as Johnson's coronation as the new ultimate brawny action man. (That said, it is really good.) The early-aughts, it turned out, would be dominated by leaner, pastier action heroes like Jason Bourne.
It's in Skyscraper—the latest in a streak of big-budget high-concept Dwayne Johnson blockbusters—that he finally claims Arnold's mantle. Not in terms of body count or catch phrases, which are relics of another era. (Sorry, The Expendables.) What Skyscraper represents is an absurd action movie that simply couldn't justify it's existence without Johnson's presence. He's an enormous charisma engine; drop him into a shiny plastic shell, and suddenly you've got a vehicle.
That's not to say Skyscraper is poorly made. It's quick like a bunny and very aware of its formula. You could write it off as a Die Hard knockoff, what with its Eurotrash villains and thematic use of duct tape, but the film borrows from a dozen action pictures, from Air Force One to Last Action Hero.
Beyond that, Skyscraper is a thoroughly 2018 action movie: Violent but largely bloodless, with a bit of heart, a bit of menace, no travel time between objectives, and zero downtime between set pieces. There are dad jokes. There are mom jokes. There's basically everything you need to keep the whole family entertained for 90 minutes. And because Johnson has the skills to carry the weight, the fact that Skyscraper is kinda dumb and Johnson's feats of strength are kinda arbitrary isn't a bug, it's a feature. And to that I tip my cap—as Arnold did 15 years ago, perhaps seeing a glimmer of what was to come.