'Skyscraper' Review: Dumb Plot and Vertigo-Inducing Thrills Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber
Starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Neve Campbell, Zhao Long Ji, Pablo Schreiber, Roland Møller and Noah Taylor
Published Jul 12, 2018If there was ever a film that delivers exactly what's on the tin, it's Skyscraper. The film's poster shows Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson dangling from a burning ledge with his wedding ring prominently on display. Translation: the Rock is going to rescue his family from a very tall building that's on fire.
The Rock stars as Will Sawyer, a former FBI agent who lost a foot in the line of duty a decade earlier. Since then, he married his nurse Sarah (Neve Campbell), had two super-cute kids (McKenna Roberts and Noah Cottrell), and found a new career as a security consultant.
He's called in to provide a security assessment for the Pearl, a newly built and fabulously luxurious skyscraper in Hong Kong. It's the tallest building in the world, so it's basically Titanic in the air. We all know how Titanic's maiden voyage went, so it's no surprise when all hell breaks lose and a team of bad guys conspire to set the building on fire (with Will's family still inside).
None of the characters are particularly fleshed-out, and writer-director Rawson Marshall Thurber saddles his stars with some seriously rigid dialogue. Then again, no one is going to buy a ticket to Skyscraper because they're expecting snappy wit, and the film delivers where it counts: with dizzying high-altitude action sequences. Anyone with even the slightest fear of heights will find a couple of these scenes wonderfully queasy, and there are many stomach-flipping moments when our hero yet again finds himself dangling hundreds of feet above the streets of Hong Kong.
The story is nothing much to speak of: the conflict between the Pearl's mastermind Chin Han (Zhao Long Ji) and the baddies who seek to burn it down is totally underdeveloped. What little plot the film has is really just an excuse to get the Rock up on the building while things blow up around him. As for the protagonist, Will is infallibly righteous — he's the perfect father, a model husband, and the only grit he's got comes from the soot he's constantly caked in.
This flick is far too dopey to come close to supplanting Die Hard as the definitive tower-based action movie. Still, with its vertigo-inducing thrills, Skyscraper wins points for truth in advertising.