These days, it’s completely unsurprising to see Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson scale a building, jump from flames or single-handedly defeat every bad guy in a 20-mile radius. In Skyscraper, the star outdoes every unstoppable action man before him, making Die Hard look like a plausible documentary and surpassing Liam Neeson in Taken as the world’s most dedicated family man. Even Tom Cruise needed hi-tech gloves to make scaling Dubai’s Burj Khalifa a possible mission; give Johnson a roll of duct tape and anything is possible. In summary, this movie takes the save-the-day story to new heights as terrorists and blazing fires call for a reality-defying rescue operation featuring Hollywood’s go-to hero.
The semi-retired wrestler is more than qualified to play the role of former FBI leader Will Sawyer. However, our human Superman has more backstory and vulnerability arising from a hostage situation gone wrong and this adds another layer to the character the actor has played many a time before. Years later, he’s a security consultant, a one-man business apparently equipped to assess the entire security system of the world’s tallest, most extravagant building. Of course, things go wrong and with his family trapped inside a burning building, Sawyer doesn’t even stop to think before racing up a crane at Olympic speed or doing the monkey bars suspended 500m above ground. There’s little room for thought in most places, but as soon as the audience follow suit in abandoning logic, it becomes much better.
The titular skyscraper, The Pearl in Hong Kong, is an attraction in its own right. The newly-built structure with its glorious waterfalls and futuristic mirror maze is visually imaginative enough to give the plot some differentiated personality, whilst the tall setting attempts to build levels of suspense and (dismissible) risk. It’s worth noting that this is a billion dollar impenetrable piece of architecture containing windows that can be shattered by a household ornament and Johnson’s sheer might. Obviously.
It’s a film of maximum effort, aiming for the maximum entertainment payoff. Even the baddies and their revenge plan are executed in the least efficient way possible. The script is a different picture, with one-liners that can only muster up chuckles, lazy villains, throwaway side plots and predictable twists. However, this could almost be redeemed by the feature’s admirable family obsession. The protagonist is not saving the world, he’s saving his world. Neve Campbell is satisfyingly kickass as doctor Sarah, Will’s wife, and the kids are persistently calm and equally indestructible, making the Sawyer unit one to really root for.
Whilst plot holes outnumber the shards of broken glass, that somehow that doesn’t seem to matter so much. The vision of a burning skyscraper is an uneasy one though, given the recent ongoing Grenfell Inquiry.
If all thoughtfulness goes out the window upon entering the cinema, there’s a silly summer blockbuster inside for everyone.
Skyscraper is released nationwide on 12th July 2018.
Watch the trailer for Skyscraper here: