WHEN I SAW THE FIRE BREAK out in the skyscraper, it changed me. Anytime afterwards when I entered a high-rise building, the first thing I looked for were the exits and fire extinguishers. I know this might sound extreme; but the idea of being stuck on one of the upper floors of a tall building with a fire raging below was something I hoped I would never have to experience in my lifetime. I saw how people were racing up the stairs to get away from the fire, aware that the smoke was getting thicker which caused them to cough more. Maybe my avoidance of touching doorknobs and handrails started when I saw one of the citizens burn their hand on a heated metal doorknob. With fire raging through the floors, going up air shafts, smoke billowing out of shattered windows, wires short circuiting and electricity sparking; there was so much going on that I did not know where to look first on the big screen. With the addition of a multitude of film celebrities, this was the best disaster movie I had ever seen to date. Because of Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, William Holden, Faye Dunaway, Fred Astaire, Richard Chamberlain, Jennifer Jones along with many others in the film, The Towering Inferno was a film that remained with me for years. AROUND THE SAME TIME WHEN THE Towering Inferno debuted, a slew of disaster films came out for several years. There was The Poseidon Adventure, Earthquake and Airport among others. I try not to be that person who compares one tragedy to another; but, during this period of time where movie special effects were improving and studios were churning out these films, I can see where this type of film can transport the viewer away from their worries. There is something about seeing a big production story come to life on the big screen, especially when it is filled with thrills and harrowing predicaments. I remember seeing some of these movies at a theater, where I would be pulled into the story to the point where I found myself worrying about the character’s plight. It was around two hours of pure entertainment that had a similar effect on me like a roller coaster ride. There would be periods of time where I was holding my breath out of tense nervousness, like when I saw Shelley Winters swimming underwater in The Poseidon Adventure. Or, seeing one of the celebrities don a fireproof suit to walk through fire. What keeps me and I assume many other viewers watching these types of pictures is the sense of hope we have that things will turn out alright in the end. In a way it gives one strength to deal with their own challenges. These feelings I got from those old disaster films returned when I watched this dramatic action film. DESPITE THE MARITAL DIFFICULTIES THEY WERE experiencing, John and Allison Garrity, played by Gerard Butler (Den of Thieves, The Vanishing) and Morena Ballerina (Deadpool franchise, Ode to Joy), needed to work together to protect themselves and their son when a catastrophic meteor shower was due to hit Earth. With Roger Dale Floyd (Doctor Sleep, Kronos) as Nathan Garrity, Scott Glenn (Backdraft, Sucker Punch) as Dale and Scott Poythress (Synchronicity, I Trained the Devil) as Kenny; this thrilling movie was a throwback to those old disaster films I described earlier. The difference however was the personal storyline the writers followed in the middle of all the action. I enjoyed watching this picture and thought Gerard was right back into his pseudo action hero role. There was some predictability with the script; but, with the well-orchestrated action sequences, I did not mind it. And with the way the director beautifully kept things moving along in the story, I was getting an almost visceral reaction from watching the scenes. Whether one is familiar with the old action films or not, this one is well suited to give one a thrill ride.
2 ¾ stars