Sunday, April 14, 2024


Movie Name:
Year of Release: 2018
Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Chin Han, Roland Moller, Noah Taylor, Byron Mann, Pablo Schreiber, McKenna Roberts, Noah Cottrell, Hannah Quinlivan, Adrian Holmes, Elfina Luk, Kevin Rankin
Genre: Action, Adventure
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 4
Watch it on Amazon

Synopsis and Review
Rawson Marshall Thurber who started his career with the Vince Vaughn/Ben Stiller starrer "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story", has since gone on to direct big action tentpoles, including the comedic "Central Intelligence", which was his first collaboration with Dwayne Johnson, followed by "Skyscraper" and the more recent "Red Notice" (the latter, a Netflix release). "Skyscraper" follows the story of Will Sawyer, a former FBI agent who is currently working as a private security consultant. His latest assignment is reviewing the security for the world's tallest building, the tower named "The Pearl" located in Hong Kong. He got that assignment through a former colleague of his who recommended him for the job. His wife and two children are with him on the tower, specifically on the residential part of it. Will is given a tablet that provides him with complete control over the Pearl's systems, by the owner of the tower itself, Zhao Long Ji. Will and his friend Gillespie are robbed on their way to an offsite security center, but Will had the tablet with him all along, which turns out is what the robbers wanted all along. Gillespie attacks Will, and in the ensuing fight gets killed, not before telling him who's behind the robbery and what's coming. Turns out an international terrorist by the name of Botha, is going to attack the tower, possibly destroy it in the process, as he wants something that is stored in it. Will loses the tablet after a second attack, while Botha and his team start a fire of epic proportions in the tower, where the Sawyer family is located. As Will witnesses the fire he goes back in hoping to save his loved ones.
Rawson Marshall Thurber's "Skyscraper", which he also wrote, is a bit like a "Die Hard" in lite mode: meaning less inventive, more destructive, and with less compelling characters. The writer/director tries to give the central hero a more vulnerable spot, with his physical challenge, however that just isn't enough to truly give a better understanding of who Will Sawyer actually is. He's apparently a security operations person who married quite well, since his wife is a medical doctor, who is also an army veteran, and a linguist/polyglot. And while Sarah Sawyer isn't a somewhat passive player in the narrative, this film could have been a lot more interesting if the balance of focus oscillated between these two central characters. Even Bonnie Bedelia's Holly was able to establish herself swiftly and efficiently in John McTiernan's muscular "Die Hard", even if her screen time was very limited. "Skyscraper" however goes into a direction that brings to mind the catastrophe films of the 1970s, such as "Earthquake" and "The Towering Inferno", where the spectacle of destruction trumps creating interesting characters. The main villain of this film comes across as a cardboard thug, without much nuance or humor for that matter, never exhibiting the intelligence and even cruelty Alan Rickman brought to his Hans Gruber in John McTiernan's film. It's a film that tries to piece together references from better films, but sadly doesn't necessarily know how to juggle character development and action set pieces. What's left is somewhat of a hollow exercise, with great production values, but wasting the charismatic presence of Neve Campbell who could have easily taken this film in a better direction. Dwayne Johnson is competent in the role, but there's also nothing particularly unique on his take of this character. The cinematography from Robert Elswit is impeccable, as is the score from Steve Jablonsky and the production design from Jim Bissell. It's not a bad film by any means, it's just not a particularly memorable one.