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Skyscraper (A Movie Review)

Updated: Mar 8, 2020



Starring Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Chin Han, Roland Moller, Noah Taylor, Byron Mann, Pablo Schreiber, Hannah Quinlivan, McKenna Roberts, Noah Cottrell, Kevin Rankin, Elfina Luk, Matt O’Leary, Beatrice King, Tzi Ma, Paul McGillion, Kathy Wu, Adrian Holmes, Vivian Full, Malin Barr and the voice of Tina Tong.

Screenplay by Rawson Marshall Thurber.

Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber.

Distributed by Universal Pictures. 102 minutes. Rated PG-13.

What happens when you take the basic storyline of The Towering Inferno, add the Eurotrash terrorist and endangered family plotlines from the first Die Hard movie, subtract plot coherence and good dialogue and top it all off with a heaping helping of The Rock?

You get Skyscraper.

Ironically, they are expecting Skyscraper to become one of the biggest hits of the summer because it is one of the few tent-pole titles of the summer which is not a sequel or reboot of an older property. That said, there is nothing original about Skyscraper. Beyond stealing huge chunks of the two movies mentioned above, there are also swipes from movies as diverse as The Fugitive, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, The Lady from Shanghai, Silent Running, Speed, Earthquake and even Rocky.

Too bad they forgot to steal the dialogue and acting from those movies.

As usual, Dwayne Johnson (the artist formerly known as The Rock) is the best part of a bad film. He really tries his best, struggles mightily to make us forget that most of this story makes no sense.

And the stunts are completely ridiculous. He climbs a 100-story crane! He jumps from the top of the crane to a burning skyscraper at least 30 yards away! He rappels across the outside of the building using only rope and duct tape! He holds the place together with his own brawny arms! He averts thousands of rounds of submachine gun fire! He stops a pair of 12-inch thick titanium security doors from closing with his prosthetic limb!

Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that he did all these things with a prosthetic leg?

The invincible hero has become a standard problem with action films. If a dude can not be killed and does dozens of physically impossible acts in the course of the movie, what’s the point in watching? You know what the outcome is going to be. You know the guy is going to survive everything that is thrown at him. You know he is going to save the day.

Another problem with Skyscraper, in which it obviously didn’t pay attention to Towering Inferno or Die Hard, is frankly there are very few people in danger, which also saps the suspense. There is the Rock, his wife and kids, the owner of the building, some security guards and the bad guys. Otherwise, we’re just watching a mostly empty building burning down.

As for why it is burning down, I couldn’t tell you. The bad guys’ plot is so convoluted and so over-the-top for their purposes that it quickly turns ridiculous. You keep thinking there must be a better reason for them to wreak all this havoc, but it never seems to come.

Although, unlike the real fire stunts of The Towering Inferno, the CGI flames of Skyscraper are both well-crafted and oddly unthreatening. For example, there is fire all around, but I can’t remember a single instance of a character catching fire. Come on, with all these special effects they couldn’t spend the time and money to put a stunt man in a fire-proof suit?

Also, there are way too many duct tape jokes.

That said, if you turn off your mind and willingly completely suspend disbelief, Skyscraper does have some very decent and fun action sequences. If you even start to think about what you’re watching, they’ll probably lose you.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2018 All rights reserved. Posted: July 13, 2018.

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