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Skyscraper Movie Review

Skyscraper (2018) movie poster Skyscraper

Theatrical Release: July 13, 2018 / Running Time: 109 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Writer/Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber

Cast: Dwayne Johnson (Will Sawyer), Neve Campbell (Sarah Sawyer), Chin Han (Zhao Long Ji), Roland M๘ller (Kores Botha), Noah Taylor (Mr. Pierce), Byron Mann (Inspector Wu), Pablo Schreiber (Ben), McKenna Roberts (Georgia Sawyer), Noah Cottrell (Henry Sawyer), Hannah Quinlivan (Xia), Adrian Holmes (Ajani Okeke), Elfina Luk (Sergeant Han), Kevin Rankin (Ray)


Dwayne Johnson has never actually starred in a genuinely good live-action movie,
but that hasn't stopped him from trying and the movie industry from letting him. Johnson's stardom, which isn't easily eclipsed at the moment by any actor not tied to a franchise, has been based on charisma and box office success. People don't see Johnson's movies because they're good, they see them because they like him and they're sort of fun, even when they're bad, which is often the case.

Skyscraper, Johnson's latest vehicle and second of 2018, is certainly both bad and fun. It is basically a PG-13 update on Die Hard with shades of The Towering Inferno as well. Like almost all of Johnson's filmography, it is a commercial play, not an artistic one. And as a formidable commercial play in 2018, it opts for global appeal, with a Hong Kong setting and a cast comprised of international talent.

When the tallest building in the world catches fire, obviously Dwayne Johnson is the man to save it in Rawson Marshall Thurber's "Skyscraper."

Johnson plays Will Sawyer, whom a Minnesota prologue set ten years in the past establishes as our hero. A military-seasoned hostage rescue team leader, Sawyer loses his left leg from above the knee down but finds love in Sarah (Neve Campbell), the military-seasoned doctor who treats him. In the present day, Will and Sarah are married and have two cute pre-teen twins (McKenna Roberts and Noah Cottrell).

The family is now the only one living in The Pearl, a newly-constructed 3,500-foot skyscraper conceived and funded by Zhao Long Ji (The Dark Knight's Chin Han). The Pearl is not just enormous, but a landmark in design. It's basically a vertical Jurassic World without the dinosaurs. Will, who hasn't touched a gun in ten years, has been hired to sign off on the building's safety and security protocols. He does that at the beginning, but we've already been tipped off by the introduction of multiple shifty characters that something evil is afoot.

Entrusted with Zhao's personal tablet with controls of all the building's infrastructures, Will is mugged as bad men led by Kores Botha (Denmark's Roland M๘ller) set a fire to the Pearl's 98th floor. Will's wife and children are among the few who are trapped inside above the fire. Fear not, though, because Will pulls himself up over a hundred stories on the side of a nearby construction crane like one of Johnson's genetically altered Rampage co-stars. The amputee's climb takes only around a minute of screentime, making it one of the first and most absurd turns of the movie. He soon leaps some thirty feet or so to grab onto some window wreckage and gain entry into the titular structure. In time, he'll make not one but two jumps in between the fast-whirring turbines that power the building.

With his wife (Neve Campbell) and children (Noah Cottrell and McKenna Roberts) in danger, naturally Will Sawyer has to save the day.

Skyscraper isn't much considered with realism. This isn't Tom Cruise defying death high outside Dubai's Burj Khalifa in the fourth Mission: Impossible. This is Dwayne Johnson's version of John McClane, wrapping up bullet wounds with duct tape and outwitting every force that stands in his CG-embellished way.

There is something liberating about the approach of writer-director Rawson Marshall Thurber, who last teamed with Johnson on the 2016 buddy comedy Central Intelligence. On Skyscraper, Thurber knowingly embraces the madness and mindlessness to craft something that's stupid and crazy enough to kind of consistently entertain. A labyrinth of crystal-clear
video screens resembling a mall mirror maze features prominently and fuels the movie's biggest groan-inducing chuckle. You're laughing at Skyscraper, but at least you're laughing. It's essentially a comedy in the tradition of Snakes on a Plane, albeit with more legitimate prospects at being a major attraction worldwide. You'd think that China would know when it's being pandered to and resist, but the market's substantial numbers on movies like The Great Wall and the Transformers series demonstrate that really isn't the case.

Skyscraper may be too dumb to appreciate as intended, but its ridiculousness is easier to enjoy than plenty of just plain bad big budget movies like the aformentioned Rampage, Disney's A Wrinkle in Time, and this summer's obligatory Jurassic World sequel.

Related Reviews:
Now in Theaters: Ant-Man and the Wasp • Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom • Uncle Drew • The First Purge • Whitney
Dwayne Johnson: Rampage • Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle • San Andreas • Journey 2: The Mysterious Island
Rolland Moller: Land of Mine • Atomic Blonde
Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber: Central Intelligence • We're the Millers
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol • Battleship • The Walk • A Good Day to Die Hard

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Reviewed July 12, 2018.

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