Courtesy of Universal
Nobody is turning out second-rate blockbusters the way Dwayne Johnson has in the last two years.
Dating back to the earthquake thriller “San Andreas,” or the recent headache inducing “Rampage” (which only arrived in theaters three months ago) - Johnson definitely works hard to keep up his reputation, and I’m sure he’s a nice guy to boot, but I really need him to start choosing better scripts, because “Skyscraper” is the latest in his filmography, that again is to loud and stupid for its own good.
No question “Skyscraper” will be a monster hit on Johnson’s appeal, considering everyone and their sister loves the guy and will flock to just about anything he does. He’s one of the few actors left that can successfully open an original property to at least $30 million (except “Baywatch” but lets forget that movie ever existed). Besides last Christmas’s “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” where Johnson had to somehow push his boundaries as a performer, he really hasn’t given audiences something truly memorable. If backed into a corner, I’m not sure how much of “Central Intelligence” folks will remember. At this point, it feels like we’re beating a dead horse.
That’s not to say “Skyscraper” is awful, it’s just a lousy excuse for Johnson to plaster his name everywhere; a vehicle that stalls fast and often. Basically: it’s the same dog and pony trick we’re growing accustomed to seeing and soon this goodwill is going to subside.
In “Skyscraper” - which is a generic rip-off of “Die Hard” - Johnson plays ex-Navy Seal Will Sawyer who lost his leg during a hostage raid gone bad. We cut to present day Hong-Kong where the film spends, at least, thirty minutes detailing how a new top-of-the-line Skyscraper called “The Pearl” is the forefront in new human innovation. It has its own ecosystem, anti-fire protection measures, and stacks as high as 300+ floors. Somehow, I feel like this building was last seen in “Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol” but I could be wrong.
Sawyer's family, including his wife (Neve Campbell coming out of the woodwork for an easy paycheck) who was a combat surgeon in an earlier life, live on the 96th floor as part of a trial run so that Will can work overtime trying to upstart his small-scale security business. He hopes to win over the visionary architect of the building (Chin Han) but before we know it, a squad of Russian goons infiltrate this supposed fortress, and begin rolling out their diabolical schemes.
I think it’s funny that “Skyscraper” spends a good chunk of the film detailing how impossible it would be for someone to penetrate The Pearl, but cheesy action movie logic dictates, these baddies can make it look easy.
So now, Johnson must endure about every absurd act you can think of to save his family. Including the biggest laugh in the film, where he scales the building with duct tape. I know we aren’t supposed to judge a summer popcorn flick this specifically, but I’ve seen some absurd movies (one that briefly comes to mind is “Olympus Has Fallen”) and they manage to embrace their absurdity without feeling dumb.
As for others who don’t share the last name Johnson, Campbell has a few moments where she isn’t just a clueless wife (a backseat throwdown is certainly welcomed) - but mostly the camera just cuts to her face when she looks stressed about her hubby doing impossible tasks. And the kids (though doing their best to strike up real emotions) are so carbon copied, you’ll never believe their relationships. Lest not forget about the token police officer on the ground narrating every sequence that transpires, cementing this films lack of originality. The only thing missing was a Twinkie.
Maybe if Director Rawson Marshall Thurber (“Central Intelligence”) invested a touch more inspiration into a memorable villain, than “Skyscraper” could’ve been a triple threat. Sure, this movie is watchable, yet for a film that tries so hard to mimic “Die Hard” you’d think they would take better notes. I’m sorry Mr. Johnson, but Bruce Willis did it better.