Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Roland Moller, Hannah Quinlivan
FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
As a film, Skyscraper sits right in the middle of the grade curve.
Let’s get the inevitable out of the way first: Skyscraper is not as good as Die Hard, its obvious key influence. That’s no capital crime – very few action movies are as Good as Die Hard. It’s also not as good as The Towering Inferno, with which it also shares a lot of cinematic DNA, if only because instead of a panoply of high profile stars coming together for some Irving Allen style disaster porn, we just get Dwayne “he’ll always be The Rock to us” Johnson and, uh, Neve Campbell, plus an ensemble of lesser lights.
But that’s okay, because Skyscraper, which we were surprised to learn was written and directed by We’re the Millers helmer Rawson Marshall Thurber, knows what it’s about: letting the ridiculously buff and stupefyingly charismatic Mr Johnson single-handedly (and single-leggedly – we’ll get there in a second) loose in a stunningly exotic location, with all the polish and razzle dazzle modern tentpole filmmaking can bring to bear. And that’s a pretty good time.
The location is a 200 storey Hong Kong high rise called The Pearl, and our man is ex-Marine and former FBI agent Will Sawyer, now a security expert since he lost a leg on the job. When the gleaming edifice to man’s arrogance comes under attack by your standard set of Eurotrash villains led by hard-bitten merc Roland Moller and slinky killer Hannah Quinlivan, Sawyer finds himself forced to swing, climb, clamber and fight his way to the top, where his family (including wife Campbell) are trapped. Luckily, he has a lot of gaffa tape, and he’s gonna need it, too – the baddies have turned the 96th floor into a raging inferno, and Mrs the Rock and their two kids are trapped above it. And we’re off to the races.
Skyscraper never surprises, but it does entertain consistently. The fight scenes are pretty ordinary, bar one fun kitchen-set scrap, but the vertiginous climbing sequences work wonders on the big screen, and the whole thing is given a handsome sheen and polish by cinematographer Robert Elswit, a regular Paul Thomas Anderson collaborator. There’s a motive for Moller and co.’s attack, but it’s pretty superfluous, and there’s a subplot of sorts where Johnson is framed for the attack, but it doesn’t add up to much, existing only to add some false tension to a scenario that really didn’t need it (and to tip the hat – or perhaps the dirty shirt – to Die Hard once again).
As a film, Skyscraper sits right in the middle of the grade curve. It’s not terrible, but it’s nor remarkable either. It’s disposable popcorn entertainment, and nothing more – your own genre preferences will dictate whether you should check this one out more than any deeper analysis.