Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber
Starring – Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Pablo Schreiber
The Plot – FBI Hostage Rescue Team leader and U.S. war veteran Will Sawyer (Johnson) now assesses security for skyscrapers. On assignment in Hong Kong 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 are trapped inside the building…above the fire line.
Rated PG-13 for sequences of gun violence and action, and for brief strong adult language
– Johnson and Campbell are dual threats as this husband and wife duo, who each offer plenty to accommodate the film. It’s obvious that Johnson is currently the greatest action star in the world, so his physical prowess goes without saying, but the real surprise here comes from Campbell, who proves that significant other characters in these movies don’t have to settle for being the damsel in distress, and can get their hands dirty in the most important of ways to the unfolding chaos around them.
– Despite it being primarily C.G effects work, the structure of the skyscraper itself is one that provided some heart-pounding action sequences to compliment the technological intricacies inside. For this particular structure, the echoing of technology coming back to help, as well as harm us is certainly evident, but it’s in the elaborate attention to detail that spares no expense that provides Johnson with perhaps his biggest foe of the film, and one that keeps kicking back.
– Finely paced movements in camera work. Being that this is a film about overcoming heights, it was important that the cinematography for the film reflect those tense vantage points from over 96 floors up, and this crew certainly doesn’t disappoint. Thankfully, there are rarely any Point-of-view shots, because that would feel too cliche, and instead the capturing of the immensity of the surrounding landscape in comparison to that of the characters, that really provide the high stakes that each of them are playing with. Because of such, we are treated to some truly death-defying long angle shots that captures the entire circumstance in frame, and puts the audience in focus without using obvious measures to take us there.
– One could consider the consistency of the serious tone in this film compromising to the sometimes ridiculousness that unfolds in choreographed action, but I found it to be rather appropriate for the urgency and gravity of time that Johnson’s character is carefully playing with. The problem with most of his other starring role films is that they embrace that silliness so much that it sometimes breaks free of logic, but in ‘Skyscraper’ it’s in the well balanced tone of this film that pays perhaps the most honorable of homages to films like ‘Die Hard’ and ‘Towering Inferno’ that let the action play into the fun that everyone is having.
– Finally a film that is set in a foreign land indulges in foreign characters. ‘Skyscraper’ takes place in Hong Kong, so it’s with extreme glee that I commend the film for including a majority of Asian characters that surround our main cast. Even more so, they aren’t just one-off dialogue delivery boys, they are vital members to what’s unfolding on the ground, carefully moving piece by piece to render the situation. Any other American action film would whitewash the hell out of this cast, but casting agent Krista Husar should be celebrated for keeping the reality within the screenplay.
– For as dimensional as the protagonists are in the film, the antagonists fail at every possible measure. Their reveals are predictable, their plans are asinine and overblown, and their heritages are very much par for what we’ve come to expect from the terrorist subgenre. It’s sad that you can take any two action films at this point, trade off their villains, and neither film would be any worse for wear because of it. Even worse, the film doesn’t even try to make their twist reveals anything remotely shocking, because the obvious seedy musical tones that accompany them tell the story that we’re already seven moves ahead on.
– Plenty of stupidity to feast on. Even though the film’s tone does keep with the maturity, the logic that defies weight and physics throughout the film does anything but. The only thing worse than Johnson climbing a 100 story crane in ten minutes, or him being the bond that holds two sides of a building together, is the obvious first act foreshadowing in character flaws and room designs that will ever so obviously make its presence felt by the film’s conclusion. Predictability is everywhere.
– Shallow, forced character exposition. This is where Johnson and Campbell are needed most of all, because the film’s lack of importance cast for their character’s depth nearly crumbles the movie around them. When we do get exposition, it’s in the form of some of the most lazy and brief deliveries from FBI agents, that could otherwise be used to soak up some valuable minutes on-screen. The film’s only moment of backstory visually is to tell the tale of how the artificial limb happened, and even that holds such little weight on the overall bigger picture in conflict that never leaves Johnson’s character anything but Superman.
– This film’s biggest obstacle will be in escaping the obvious comparisons to that of ‘Die Hard’ or ‘Towering Inferno’, and unfortunately the movie does very little to rid itself of the disciple tag. In terms of originality, ‘Skyscraper’ can only build bigger to the structures in those movies, but in terms of memorable circumstance, this film is every bit as forgettable as it is redundant. You probably could’ve just called this a remake and capitalized on the crowds of those bigger franchises. It makes sense to follow something so closely without it.