Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Chin Han, Roland Moller
Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Synopsis from Rotten Tomatoes: Global icon Dwayne Johnson leads the cast of Legendary’s SKYSCRAPER as former FBI Hostage Rescue Team leader and U.S. war veteran Will Ford, who now assesses security for skyscrapers. On assignment in China he finds the tallest, safest building in the world suddenly ablaze, and he’s been framed for it. A wanted man on the run, Will must find those responsible, clear his name and somehow rescue his family who is trapped inside the building…above the fire line.
After April’s Rampage, Dwayne Johnson finishes 2018 with a similar action blockbuster where he does many of the same crazy physical stunts on top of a story that is incredibly predictable. The main difference this time is that Skyscraper takes itself way too seriously when it probably should have been on the campier side of things like Rampage was. While Skyscraper certainly delivers in the special effects department, a generally lackluster story distracts from a film that is one of the most perfectly mediocre films in years.
The film follows Will Sawyer (Johnson), a security contractor who is also an amputee due to a hostage incident from when he was a member of the FBI. Will and his family are brought to Hong Kong so that Will can inspect, “The Pearl,” the largest building in the world built by Zhao Long Ji (Han). When a group of international terrorists lead by Kores Botha (Moller) storm the building and set it on fire, it is up to Will to rescue his family who is trapped inside. Where the film really hits its stride is specifically during the moments of tension. Anytime Will does something outrageous that would get most of us killed, you feel this gripping sensation all throughout your body. There were multiple times when I felt the tingling nervousness on the bottom of my feet and thought, “there is no way this should work.” Johnson has proven himself as one of the most elite physical actors in movies today and his physical performance in Skyscraper is one of his best. Combine this with some incredible cinematography regarding these stunts and any scene shot in the actual Pearl part of the tower and you get a film that is incredibly nice to look at. The story, however, has little to be desired. The plot is incredibly predictable and you know exactly how each character will act and which side they will end up on as soon as they are introduced. Moller plays an uninspired and boring villain that is just a terrorist for the same generic reasons as any summer action movie villain. His actions are incredibly predictable and his backstory is explained in about two minutes with no relation to Will or his family. Speaking of Will’s family, I learned absolutely nothing about the family members that would make me care if Will saves them or not. Will’s wife Sarah (Campbell), has some genuinely good moments where she shows strong chemistry with Johnson, but she serves mostly as a plot device and less as an actual person. Their two kids have no development and are essentially just scared kids in a burning building. There is one scene where the two of them have time to actually talk with one another and it lasts about 30 seconds and once again, only serves to further the plot. The situation they are in is clearly life-threatening, but there was time at the beginning of the film to show us some details about these kids, anything to make them more dimensional, but the film elected to go with a more action-centered mindset. That would normally be fine, but the film took itself way too seriously and was missing some light-hearted moments that Johnson is known. While the film is clearly an homage to great films of the past like Die Hard, Skyscraper would need a much cleaner plot if it were to ever reach the heights of a film like that.
Overall, sure Skyscraper is exactly what you think it is going to be, but it does a decent job being that movie. Skyscraper knows that its audience will watch it mostly to see Johnson pull off incredible stunts, and on that end the film absolutely delivers. If you want to play the, “how many times would I have died in this movie,” game like I did, rest assured you will have plenty of opportunities to pick from. While the script could have been much stronger, Dwayne Johnson’s 2018 is capped off with another action-packed, mid-level movie that should please anyone that it is trying to please.
Overall Score: 5/10