So… DIE HARD (1988) with The Rock? I mean, it’s pretty similar. Both were servicemen, John McClane was a cop, The Rock’s character was a soldier, they’re fighting in a huge building under attack, at some point they’re dangling on the side of building really high up, and both of their families are in danger. The similarities are little too on the nose, don’t you think?
The story looks like it’s about a former soldier who was wounded in battle and lost a leg. Now he’s a security consultant for what is described as the tallest building in the world and has a ton of problems that, although haven’t been set off yet, are about to be for unknown reasons, and it’s up to him to save his family trapped inside when bad guys take over.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Dwayne Johnson (RAMPAGE , F8 OF THE FURIOUS , MOANA , SAN ANDREAS , and upcoming films FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY  and HOBBS AND SHAW ), Neve Campbell (THE LION KING 2: SIMBA’S PRIDE , and the upcoming HOT AIR ), Pablo Schreiber (DEN OF THIEVES , 13 HOURS , and upcoming films FIRST MAN  and THE KING’S DAUGHTER ), and Chin Han (GHOST IN THE SHELL  and INDEPENDENCE DAY 2 ).
Now for the crew. Writing and directing, we have Rawson Marshall Thurber, known for CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE (2016), and the upcoming RED NOTICE (2020). Composing the score is Steve Jablonsky, known for TRANSFORMERS 5 (2017), DEEPWATER HORIZON (2016), and THE LAST WITCH HUNTER (2015). The cinematographer is Robert Elswit, known for GOLD (2017), MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – ROGUE NATION (2015), and the upcoming VELVET BUZZSAW (2018). Finally, the co-editors are Julian Clarke (DEADPOOL ) and Michael L. Sale (THE HOUSE  and CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE).
Overall, I don’t know how to feel about this. Johnson is a pretty reliable source of charisma and has certainly belt out his fair share of fun action movies, but… IT’S DIE HARD!!! What else am I supposed to think?! I’m reserving judgment, don’t worry, but I’m not holding my breath for anything that’s all that amazing.
This is my honest opinion of: SKYSCRAPER
Years ago, Will Sawyer (Dwayne Johnson) was once an FBI agent and lost his leg from a suicide bomber. Now, he’s a security consultant, married to Sarah (Neve Campbell), and they have twin children Henry (Noah Cottrell) and Georgia (McKenna Roberts). Will’s latest venture has taken him to Hong Kong, China. Very specifically, to inspect the Pearl: now the world’s tallest and most high-tech building, which will soon be open for public housing, all created by the ingenuity of Zhao Long Ji (Chin Han). However, things don’t go as swimmingly as everyone hoped as the building is infiltrated by a group of thugs who manage to destroy an entire floor of the Pearl. Will is separated from his family, who weren’t supposed to be in the building at the time of its destruction, Will tries desperately to reach them, but Will soon becomes public enemy number one for the police who think he caused the explosion.
And… it’s not very good. I’m constantly reminded of how much better DIE HARD is. Don’t worry, this won’t be a compare and contrast.
Anyway, one of the biggest surprises is that Johnson is completely without charm. Honestly, this role could have been played by anyone, mostly because Will has very little personality. Yes, yes, family in trouble, wants to save them, stop the bad guys, I got it. But that’s motivation and goals, not a personality. He’s… just an every-man. It’s not a bad performance, per se, but it’s also not very interesting, or really enough to carry the story.
I’m just going to say it, the movie is boring. Yes, boring. An action movie with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is boring. I’ve said that three times now, just to make sure that you readers are reading this correctly and that there’s no mistaking how I feel. But in true fashion of an amateur movie critic, let’s dive into why I feel this way. Aside from the fact that Johnson has nothing to chew on, but we don’t actually learn why any of this is happening until well past the one hour mark. I’m not exaggerating, we go significantly more than half this movie without knowing why these bad guys are here, why they blew up an entire floor of the Pearl, it’s just a bunch of stuff happening for what seems to be no good reason. You could have told me that these mercenary dudes are just really really extreme vandalists having a laugh and I would’ve had no reason to argue with you. You don’t know what they’re after, who they’re after, where their intended destination is, nothing. Action can be cool, but action needs context for audiences to get immersed. Without a rhyme or reason for all of this chaos, it’s going to feel hollow. As a result, I just didn’t really care about Will and whether or not he’d make it. In fact, it would have been ballsy to kill him off and have Sarah be the action heroine of the movie, as she seemed rather capable in a hostile engagement.
On a technical standpoint, it occasionally falls flat. Toward the beginning, Will is taking an elevator up to meet with the head honchos of the Pearl and the movie makes an attempt to show us the beauty and majesty of what else is inside this building. Sadly, this attempt is botched because the camera angles are so weird that I don’t think many people would be able to make out anything tangible. Whatever attachment the audience was supposed to feel is ultimately wasted. The writing and direction is also very subpar. When an employee of a company as big as this must be to build “the world’s tallest building,” that has to come with some pretty dedicated employees. Except for one, of course. There’s a scene where a maintenance worker is in the sub-level of the Pearl and to his right, sees the walls cracking. Like a dumb-ass, he stands there watching it and even when the crack becomes a fully fledged HOLE, the dude’s only reaction is, “That’s weird.” Um… no, anybody else would have radioed in the first crack in the wall, and as soon as an OBVIOUS MAN-MADE PERFECTLY CIRCULAR HOLE APPEARS, you get your ass out of there and alert security, your manager, whoever the hell you would need to. For all he knew, this series of “weird,” as was so eloquently described, could have meant the ceiling could come down. Ain’t no one sticking around for that shit.
And seriously, by the end of the movie, more than half of the Pearl is burning. Not that I’m an architect or anything, but one would think the structural integrity would be so FUBAR by that point that it’s downright miraculous that the building didn’t even collapse in on itself. And it wasn’t like these fires were happening because some stupid kids were lighting paper planes on fire and things just got out of hand, no most of these floors catch fire because of explosions. Explosions are, believe it or not, violent occurrences. I’m looking at the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centers as a reference here. The North Tower, levels 93 through 99, and the South Tower, levels 75 through 85. The twin towers each had 104 levels. So out of 104 floors, less than were needed to cause their ultimate collapse. I won’t deny that there’s a ton of other factors that caused the Towers to collapse, but with that much violent, explosive damage done, I’m just saying it pretty suspect.
The only thing I really give this movie credit for is that it reminds me of my fear of heights. Whenever Will looks down, I got a case of vertigo. My blood pressure was rising, my anxiety was going insane, and I was so desperate not to fall through the movie screen that I bunched myself in a ball in my seat and buried myself as far back as I could. While I could argue that if this movie about heights failed to deliver on that bit of realism, then it would have been an utter trainwreck. But this was done well, do I can hardly hate it completely.
Overall, I can’t claim this movie to be good. It’s really not. And honestly, I wasn’t even all that entertained until the climax. Visceral when it needed to be, and some passable performances by Campbell, Chin Han, and Hannah Quinlivan, but otherwise a pretty hollow experience. If you’re aiming for a dumb action movie, I guess it’s harmless enough and I acknowledge that I might be in the minority of those who don’t like it. By no means a chore to sit through, but I didn’t get much out of it either. Might be bigger than Nakatomi Plaza, but this movie’s feet are too small to fit in DIE HARD’s shoes.
My honest rating for SKYSCRAPER: a weak 3/5
This week’s reviews:
- HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3: SUMMER VACATION
- SORRY TO BOTHER YOU
- EIGHTH GRADE
- DON’T WORRY, HE WON’T GET FAR ON FOOT
- A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM
Next week’s reviews:
- THE EQUALIZER 2
- MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN
- UNFRIENDED: DARK WEB
- PRINCESS MONONOKE (1997)