REVIEW: “Skyscraper”

SKYSCRAPERposter

Expectations are a funny thing, especially when talking about a movie like “Skyscraper”. After seeing the trailers I could never shake my “The Rock versus a Skyscraper” impression. I fully expected a movie cheesier than a block of Velveeta. But after seeing the film I can honestly say I was wrong…sort of.

Now don’t misunderstand me, there is still cheese. And “Skyscraper” never quite breaks out of its genre mold or shakes free from its conventional and predictable blueprint. Once it gets rolling you pretty much know what you’re in for. But it’s easily an above average popcorn flick that surprised more than expected.

SKY1

In the prologue an FBI raid goes terribly wrong and Hostage Rescue Team leader Will Sawyer (Dwayne Johnson) is seriously injured. He loses his leg but meets his future wife Sarah (Neve Campbell) as a result. Ten years later the two are married with two kids and soldier-turned-family man Will manages his life as an amputee while running a small independent security company.

Will and his family travel to Hong Kong after an old FBI buddy (Pablo Schreiber) helps him get a shot at a potentially huge contract. The job is as a security consultant for a 3,500 foot state-of-the-art skyscraper called The Pearl. It’s the brainchild of a Chinese entrepreneur (Chin Han), complete with its own energy source, a massive botanical garden with its own waterfall, and a large residential section. It’s essentially a city in the sky. Will is brought in to give The Pearl a thorough security examination before it can be opened to the public.

But as John McClane can attest, oh those pesky terrorists. While Will is working offsite, the crime syndicates send their extortion handler Kores Botha (Roland Møller) and his band of mercenaries to infiltrate The Pearl. A few double-crosses and one large fire later, and the terrorists have control of the skyscraper with Will’s family trapped inside. I shouldn’t need to tell you where it goes from there.

The glaringly obvious “Die Hard” inspiration goes without saying, but I also couldn’t help but see glimpses of “The Towering Inferno”. Writer-director Rawson Marshall Thurber uses elements of those movies but shakes them up a bit. He does the same with Johnson (the two previously worked together on the 2016 comedy “Central Intelligence”). Thurber dials back the witty charm and downplays the buff action hero persona. Johnson does good with the more dramatic material he is given.

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Several other things impressed me about “Skyscraper”. The film makes a conscience effort to respectfully represent disability and the reactions from those communities have been heart-warming. Will’s disability is never seen as a weakness. It actually saves his life on multiple occasions. Most importantly it isn’t used as a narrative gimmick. There is also a strong message of family that I responded to. Again, at times cheesy, but still a welcomed ingredient.

So yes, “Skyscraper” was a nice surprise and certainly a step up from Johnson’s last blockbuster effort. It’s still very much light popcorn entertainment with a predictable framework and the type of crowd-pleasing you expect from these things. Also don’t expect a Hans Gruber-like villain. We get nothing close. But I won’t lie, I was with this movie all the way through and it’s a nice addition to the filmography of Hollywood’s hardest working guy.

VERDICT – 3.5 STARS

3-5-stars

25 thoughts on “REVIEW: “Skyscraper”

  1. I’m laughing at the part where this movie impressed you… I’m sorry I can’t help it. The Rock might need to take a few pages out of Tom Cruise’s handbook on how to be a REAL action star without CGI and make a good movie.. 🙂 So in other words, please go see Fallout for a true to heart, action movie. then come back and tell me that Skyscraper still impressed you.. 🙂

    • Not sure how “Fallout” being great would effect my reaction to “Skyscraper”. I really don’t go into these movies comparing one to the other. Also The Rock and Tom Cruise are vastly different actors in experience, style, etc. Again, not sure how comparing them really helps. As I mentioned, I was impressed by Johnson’s toned down performance, the film’s handling of disabilities, and the family element. And coming off a slog like “Rampage” (that review will post next week 😉), this one did impress me.

      As for “Fallout”, it is my most anticipated summer movie. Needless to say I’m not expecting it to be a “Skyscraper”. I’ll know in a couple of hours. 😁

  2. Couldn’t agree more. When it became apparent that this summer would be offering us not one Dwayne Johnson blockbusters, but two, I took one look at this trailer and pegged it to be the better of the two. Of course I don’t think I played the Rampage game much as a kid, but that film was really REALLY silly. This had a beating heart, and like you I was on board the whole way once I accepted the fact that Will Sawyer essentially fell in love with his surgeon lol. If you accept that rapid development, you’ll accept almost everything this movie throws at you

    • So well put bro. It truly does move at such a crisp pace that you never stop and dwell on it. And I really liked how it handled disability. As a brother to a guy with disability, I appreciated how they didn’t exploit it nor treat Will as weaker because of it. That resonates.

    • Rampage was silly but a relative bore to me. Not good, or bad…but kind of dull throughout. I can hardly remember a thing about it aside from George making an obscene gesture at the end of it.

      Skyscraper ain’t great, but I honestly can’t say I was consistently bored. Kind of disappointed it lost some of its groundedness hinted at in the first 30 or so minutes (though the trailers do showcase much of the movie), but after this point, I just sat in and dug in and laughed like hell. Still think it’s Dwayne’s best solo movie since Faster/Snitch.

      • I think one of the things I liked the most was how it juggled Johnson’s toned down, more serious role with the absurdity of the whole thing. Both of those elements worked for me in a weird kind of way.

        As for Rampage…well, I’ll get that review posted next week. I had a few things to say about it. 😬

  3. Rampage was a bit of a disappointment. I think the Rock has a strong screen presence but he needs the right screenplay to use it well. like Arnold in Terminator or Stallone in Rambo. am wondering if he needs to
    appear invincible as oppose to vulnerable.

    • I think that’s a really good point. He has an undeniable charm but if the script isn’t great…And I think the Arnold comparison is spot-on. As his career moved forward you definitely seeing him making choices that fit his strengths.

    • Give Skyscraper a shot. It cleans up some of the messes of “Rampage”. It’s a much different Rock performance and the story is far more interesting.

    • Wasn’t it a nice surprise? I like Johnson and want to enjoy his movies. Some are hard to embrace but this one worked surprisingly well. The concept is goofy beyond question, but sometimes I like a little goofy in my movies.

  4. This looks like one of those movies that I probably won’t see for a while and when I finally do will no hooked. I honestly have no expectations for it and therefore will probably be pleased.

    • He has an infectious personality that he smartly leans on. I love that about him. But I really like that he shows a more serious side in this one. I really went with it.

  5. Like you I really enjoyed it. Don’t think about it too much else it will ruin your enjoyment, but just go along with the ride and you’ll have a good time 🙂

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