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Movie Review: Skyscraper
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Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Writers: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Chin Han, Roland Møller, Noah Taylor, Byron Mann, Pablo Schreiber, Hannah Quinlivan
Studio: Universal Pictures
Rated PG-13 | 102 Minutes
Release Date: July 13, 2018

Science and physics do not apply for a blockbuster film. So don’t expect to see any of that in Skyscraper. The film starring Dwayne Johnson seems to defy all logic and sound science, and somehow still manages to be a modestly entertaining film, even with its thin story and cheesy goodness.

So after facing off against some unlikely antagonists, which have taken many different forms throughout the course of his career – from giant beasts, terrorist organizations, even earthquakes – Johnson is up against one of his tallest adversaries to date, a giant burning building filled with terrorists holding his family hostage. Check out our review of Skyscraper below.

The film starts with Will Sawyer (Johnson) engaging in a hostage negotiation that takes an unexpected turn. A causality of a bomb blast, Will ends up in the care of his future wife, Sarah (Neve Campbell), a military surgeon. Ten years later, we find that Will lost his leg, but gained a lot more. He is now a small business security consultant, who has taken his wife and twins to Hong Kong to assess the security of the world’s tallest building, The Pearl.

Owned by wealthy businessman Zhao Long Ji (Chin Han), The Pearl will be home to one of the largest shopping centers and luxurious residences in the world. Not to mention its biggest treasure, a pearl-like addition that houses dual camera panels that can make the inside look like a fun house or cause a reflection of the outside to make it look like you are walking on thin air. Whether you are on the inside or outside, the structure is a true sight to behold.

But there is a nefarious plot to bring the building down to the ground as a bitter crime lord seeks to reclaim what is his, and he will do anything to achieve that goal. Even if it means killing Will and his family in the process. But Will, being the selfless family man that he is, will fight tooth and nail to save them. Even if it means he has to scale a burning building or jump off a crane to do so.

As far as summer blockbuster movies go, Skyscraper checks off all of the boxes. It’s downright cheesy. And that is okay. For the most part. It’s got a relatively thin plot that doesn’t need much deconstruction. There is a good guy and there is a bad guy. There is a giant set piece. Cheesy one-liners. And even cheesier action sequences. And despite some of those edge-of-your seat action sequences, the film can feel like it is losing some gas. Yet, it still finds a way to reel us back in with even more absurd moments.

See, without any sort of explanation, Will is framed for The Pearl’s demise. But that doesn’t concern him. To Will, the police are just standing in the way of rescuing his family. Which may explain why he’ll do anything to save them. Which includes taking a giant leap of faith jumping from a crane into a burning building where his family is.

It’s hard not to see the Die Hard-ness of Skyscraper, especially when Will has to go from floor to floor, be it inside our out, to achieve the next goal. And he’ll use every tool at his disposal, duct tape included, to make sure he brings every single member of his family out alive. I mean who needs high-tech adhesive gloves to go across the 98th floor of a towering inferno when you have duct tape. And he does all of this on a prosthetic leg.

That’s where the movie succeeds most at. Though it may be very predictable, Skyscraper has plenty of likable characters that you want to see survive this ordeal. It’s hard not to root for someone like Will, who is risking life and limb to rescue his family. There are plenty of instances where we see Will act like a loving father and a true friend. This only has us sympathize with him more. Campbell gets some of her own moments to shine and isn’t reduced to playing the damsel in distress. Her character has very high situational awareness and it is pretty clear she knows how to react.

Even the film’s onlookers get to be a character as they watch the action as it is televised on giant screens throughout the city. It gives the film that meta feel as you are watching what they are watching. A sign of the times I guess.

I really hate using this term, but Skyscraper is the kind of film you will thoroughly enjoy if you turn your brain off. Its story doesn’t ask much of you. There are no secrets to hide or thought-provoking questions it wants you to answer. It’s just a good old-fashioned schmaltzy film that draws inspiration from Towering Inferno and the obvious Die Hard. But even with its thin story, one-dimensional bad guys, and generic science-defying action sequences, it’s still great to see Johnson play a very likable figure that you will end up cheering for, regardless of the film’s predictability.


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