Maybe Efthimiou is correct? But the scene, which occurs about a third into the story, simply works from a moviegoing perspective. The most important part of the jump is the way the director Rawson Marshall Thurber, who worked with Johnson on the comedy Central Intelligence, and the movie's vastly overqualified cinematographer Robert Elswit, who has shot multiple Paul Thomas Anderson movies, stage the action to wring every bit of goofy, nail-biting suspense from every flame-kissed frame. In trailers, the jump looks preposterous. But in the actual film, it's a crowd-pleasing moment of pure action movie hokum.
The effectiveness of the leap is all in the Jumbotron. In what feels like a meta-wink to Johnson's WWE days, when legions of fans would roar along to his every raised eyebrow and dropped elbow, the moment where Will make his fateful jump plays out on a giant screen in the streets of Hong Kong, where spectators watch and cheer him on. As a helicopter films him, the citizens of the city look on at the spectacle. You never really find out why all these people are gathered in the streets to watch this disaster soap opera, but you don't question it. They're a perfect audience surrogate: the gasp, cry, and scream for our hero.
More so than in an earlier close-quarters knife-fight or in the movie's hall of mirrors finale, the crane-jump scene fully grasps and understands the appeal of Dwayne Johnson as a movie star in ways that previous vehicles have not. Yes, he's charming on talk shows and on social media. Sure, his shoulders are enormous. Fine, his heart seems like it's in the right place. But Johnson's most profound, enduring gift is the way he can thrill a crowd, which is what made him such a brilliant wrestler and has occasionally limited his film work.
Skyscraper presents Dwayne Johnson as a source of spectacle, a thirsty gladiator who feeds off the demands of an audience. There's a neediness baked into Johnson's public persona: You feel it in his Instagram videos, his chatty magazine profiles, and his emoji-filled tweets. It's not necessarily a bad thing -- in some ways it's relatable -- but it makes it hard for him to settle into a role. Even in the Fast and Furious franchise, where he can be quite funny, he stands apart from the action at a slight remove. Jumanji was the same way. He's present but winking at the same time.
This is different. The leap in Skyscraper gives up all the pretenses of a conventional, dramatic movie and becomes something stranger and hypnotic. He's not just playing to the cheap seats -- he's playing to the globe. In the unlikely event there's a sequel, the movie should only be screened on a Jumbotron. It's where the magic happens.