A while ago we brought you a review of Inferno: Skyscraper Escape, which was one of those hastily thrown together films to pre-empt the release of a bigger, Hollywood film. Skyscraper, is that film.
Dwayne Johnson (Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle, Fast & Furious 8) is Will, a former FBI agent who loses his leg when a man holding a family hostage detonates an explosive vest. One of his compatriots that day, Pablo Schreiber (Beast Of Burden, Den Of Thieves), gets some facial scarring for his troubles.
Fast forward an indeterminate number of years and Will is married to Sarah, Neve Campbell (The Scream Series, House Of Cards (TV)), and has a son and daughter. They’re now living in Hong Kong and Will is about to meet the owner of the world’s largest skyscraper.
That man is Chin Han (Ghost In The Shell, Captain America: The Winter Soldier), who built The Pearl. As it’s the biggest, most technologically advanced skyscraper ever, he needs an independent security expert to sign-off his safety systems, so he can start moving people in.
This is where Will comes in, having been recommended by his buddy Schreiber. However, when Roland Moller (Atomic Blonde, Land Of Mine) enters the scene with his gang of goons, things quickly go south and Will is left in a race against time to save his family from the tallest skyscraper in the world, which is now a burning chimney.
The difference between the “big Hollywood film” and the one that has tried to rip it off should be enormous, there should be a gulf between them. I’d like to say this is the case with Skyscraper, I really would, but sadly I can’t.
It’s hard not to like a movie starring Mr. Johnson, even Jumanji, I guess, but Skyscraper is, by far, the most generic movie Dwayne Johnson has done. The story, written by Rawson Marshall Thurber (Central Intelligence, Dodgeball), who also directs, borrows heavily from other movies, but doesn’t even attempt to better them, in some cases doesn’t even attempt to equal them.
The obvious comparison is Die Hard, of which there are some similarities, but in terms of class, watchability, it’s insulting to talk about the two in the same breath.
Johnson does stand out in the movie, it’s good to see him being serious man for a change and to show that he can do it, the CGI is also absolutely stunning.
Less so are the generic European bad guys, a slight step up from the English bad guy though Moller’s helper is Noah Tyler (Paddington 2, Free Fire), but they bring little menace, particularly when the thing they’re after isn’t anything to do with Johnson, so they try to use his family as leverage. It’s a tough leap to make, not unlike the posters for the film you’ll have no doubt seen the memes about.
There are little elements dropped in at the beginning (such as Johnson fixing his wife’s phone) that will come back to ‘save them’ later on. It’s all too obvious, it’s all been seen before, it’s all been done better.
If you can suspend your belief, and I mean really suspend your belief, and ignore the generic nature of the film, then Skyscraper is relatively short, fun-ish action movie.
However, if you’re looking for something a little more taxing, something fresh, new, edge-of-the-seat, I’d think twice.