On The Rock’s ‘Skyscraper’ and paunchy middle-aged dad heroism fantasies

A sunflower-beheading, football-bursting battleaxe next door gives Sam Delaney the chance to save his loved ones in spectacular action-hero style. Well, in his head anyway...

In Skyscraper The Rock plays a security expert whose family are trapped inside a burning skyscraper. He will stop at nothing to get them out of there.

From Die Hard to Commando to Taken, the classics of the action genre surround a man on a mission to save his wife and/or kids. Like many middle-aged dads who live quiet lives in the suburbs and spend most of their time worrying about their rapidly developing paunches, I identify strongly with The Rock.

Sometimes – and, yes, I know this is disgusting and sick – I find myself daydreaming about scenarios in which my family are endangered and I have to perform spectacular heroics to save them. For instance, we have a battleaxe neighbour who seems to despise my children and goes to pretty impressive lengths to interfere with their fun. When a ball goes over into her garden, she won’t just refuse to return it – she will burst it and throw it in the bin.

Once, and I have no actual evidence to support this claim so I can only hope she and her legal team don’t read The Big Issue, I am pretty sure she cut the head off of the sunflower my son had proudly grown above fence height. He came home from school one afternoon to find the beautiful head of the flower lying tragically on the lawn. The cut from the stem was clean, as if it had been executed by a set of garden shears.

Shirtless and buff as hell, I commandeer a wrecking ball and smash her radio to smithereens

Whenever the kids play out in the garden on long sunny days, she immediately puts her radio in the back window, tunes into some crackling white noise, turns the volume up to maximum and retreats to another room in the house. When the racket gets too much for the kids and they come back inside she immediately remerges to switch the radio off.

I should probably feel sorry for our neighbour for being such a misery guts. But in my relatively undramatic world she is the closest I have to a baddie. So sometimes I while away a spring afternoon picturing myself (usually shirtless and buff as hell) at the controls of a gigantic crane, commandeering a wrecking ball as it careers through our garden fence and into the front wall of our neighbour’s home, smashing her radio to smithereens.

It’s a stupid and childish fantasy, I suppose – and it would be entirely counter-productive because it would render the whole street a health and safety nightmare, unfit for children to play in at all. But it is cathartic. And it reassures me that, should the day ever come that I am called into action to protect my loved ones, I am every bit as ready as The Rock.

Skyscraper is available now on Sky Cinema