Skyscraper (2018) Movie Review: “Die Hard” in a Building

Ten years ago, Will Sawyer (Dwayne Johnson) was an FBI agent injured on the job by an explosion that leaves him wearing a prosthetic lower leg. While recovering in a naval hospital, he met Sarah (Neve Campbell), a doctor, and ten years, later they are married and parents to twins, a boy and a girl. Johnson is now running his own security firm, which was hired to approve the security and maintenance systems of The Pearl, a 220-story building in Hong Kong, China that has such an intense infrastructure the operations center is a mile away. Other than Zhao Long Ji (Chan Li), the builder who lives in the penthouse, Will’s family are the only residents.

Terrorists set fire to a few floors in the middle of the structure, causing a inferno that towers 90-odd floors up, trapping Will’s family, thus insuring he has to get back in and save them. Being that the authorities think the fire/attack may have been an inside job, Will becomes a suspect and is pursued.

The terrorists have attacked the building on behalf of criminal organizations in order to secure a thumb drive of Ji’s that has information about their identities, but surely it would be so easy to copy and share that info before they got to the building that it makes no sense how anyone would think it could be contained.

But then “thinking” is not required for Skyscraper‘s characters or viewers. The film’s sole purpose is to deliver over-the-top thrills as expected from an action blockbuster not a story that makes sense. The scene from the trailer and poster where Johnson has to jump from a crane into the building is preceded by him having to climb 100 stories on a crane rig, which seems exhausting but the build-up to and the jump itself are exciting.

Unfortunately, the characters aren’t very memorable, although credit is due for Sarah, who isn’t a damsel in distress. She helps her husband save the day using her intelligence and even her fists when required, which is a nice change of pace. Otherwise, I can barely tell you anything below the surface about the rest of them. Even Will’s character is rather bland. He lacks memorable quips and the fight scenes are simply adequate.

The climax on top of the building is an homage to the mirror scene from The Lady from Shanghai, updated by technology. The gadgets are revealed early in the film, signaling their eventual use by the screenwriters, but there’s no real purpose for them in the movie, so they are solely for the filmmakers.

With the characters involved at such great heights, Skyscraper would be good in IMAX, and seeing it in 3D could maximize the presentation. The stunt team and visual effects artists are deserving of the most praise. The movie is mindless fun and certainly a good way to beat the heat, but it’s nothing that will leave a long-lasting impression once the lights come up. It’s likely to just be one in a series of films during Johnson’s domination at the box office.

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Gordon S. Miller

Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of this site. "I'm making this up as I go" - Indiana Jones

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