Review: Skyscraper

5 10

PLOT: A security consultant (Dwayne Johnson) is drawn into the middle of a heist taking place in the world’s tallest building. With the building a raging inferno, and his wife and kids trapped, he has no choice but to take matters into his own hands and try and save the day.

REVIEW: SKYSCRAPER seems to be Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s tribute to DIE HARD, but there’s a fine line between tribute and rip-off. While not a direct remake, that Bruce Willis-classic’s DNA is thoroughly embedded into every frame, although heavy duty CGI and enough pyrotechnics to make John McTiernan’s film look like a documentary, are no competition to the old fashioned stunt work and attitude that’s made it endure so long. By contrast, SKYSCRAPER is more bombastic (and definitely more family friendly – with a modest body count and nearly no gun violence from The Rock) but a whole lot less thrilling.

This is another Legendary Productions outing, meaning it’s mainly designed for Chinese audiences, with the film taking place in Hong Kong, and continuing an odd trend where Chinese oligarchs are presented in an unfailingly flattering light, with Chin Han’s tough guy Zhao a close cousin to the character played by Jing Tian in PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING. Like that movie, this seems reversed engineered for Chinese audiences, although given the insane popularity of The Rock abroad, it makes sense.

For North American audiences that lived through the DIE HARD-clones of the late eighties/nineties, SKYSCRAPER has a lot less to offer. It’s too tame to go toe-to-toe with legit action classics, and the toned-down Johnson, who’s a lot more serious here than in his other films, seems ill at ease in this serious actioner. He plays a traumatized former FBI agent who’s now a consultant on the upswing, He’s been handed a dream gig on a silver platter by a former colleague (continuing the reinvention of Pablo Schreiber as a surprisingly effective tough guy), but uh-oh, a crew of baddies led by ATOMIC BLONDE’s Roland Møller, are there to spoil it.

Given the kind of movie this is, I should warn anyone too preoccupied with physics to cut this one a wide berth. Not much of it makes sense. Heck, we see The Rock scale a 100 floor crane and use it to propel himself through a broken window (on a prosthetic leg to boot) and that’s just the start. All of this would be fine were the action scenes the least bit memorable. In fact, only the first hand-to-hand scrap is any good. The rest of the action mostly involves The Rock falling, pulling himself up by his fingertips, punching his way out of jams, rinse, and repeat. Director Rawson Marshall Thurber is making his first action flick after a career in comedy, but he should have mixed things up a bit. In fact, it should have gotten a whole lot crazier; with the unforgivable sin being that The Rock never beats anyone to death with his prosthetic leg (I kept waiting and waiting for this).

Another huge problem is how disposable the baddies are. Møller is a good actor (he’s great in the upcoming PAPILLON remake), but he has nothing to work with. It’s a baddie 2.0 part. You’ll yearn for the days of Alan Rickman and Dennis Hopper. Where have all the bad guys gone? On the plus side, Neve Campbell makes a comeback as The Rock’s naval surgeon wife, and she shows enough spunk that you’ll wonder why she isn’t cast more often in films like this. If anyone will benefit from this, I assume it’ll be her.

It’s really too bad SKYSCRAPER is so underwhelming, as I was keyed up to see it, and expected it to be a fun summer ride. To me, it’s probably the worst movie from Johnson in a while (at least BAYWATCH didn’t take itself seriously), and a minor setback for a mostly unstoppable juggernaut of a star. Chalk this one up as a rare misfire for the big guy – even if it’s still kinda watchable.

Source: JoBlo.com



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