UNIVERSAL PICTURES (2018)

 

Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber

 

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Chin Han, Roland Møller, Noah Taylor, Byron Mann, Pablo Schreiber, Hannah Quinlivan

After escaping the jungle, fighting off mutated beasts and comparing abs with Zac Efron, next up for The Rock is to save his family from the tallest skyscraper on earth – one that’s on fire and under attack. Another standard evening for ol’ Dwayne.

 

Joining forces with director Rawson Marshall Thunder, the prolific Brahma Bull steps into shoes left vacant by John McClaine and delivers an all-action Die Hard-lite affair.

 

However, Die Hard was just a bit better.

Former FBI agent and war veteran Will Sawyer (Johnson) now assesses security for skyscrapers after losing a limb during a rescue mission years before. Assigned to the worlds tallest (in China) and safest skyscraper – The Pearl - he resides there with his wife Sarah (Campbell) and kids as the finishing touches are put to safety. When the building is set ablaze by angry bad guys, Sawyer is framed for it and is suddenly a wanted man. With his family trapped at the top of the building and the need to find those responsible, Sawyer has a big night ahead of him – and that’s all whilst trying to stay alive.

 

The Rock doesn’t do things by halves – Rampage, The Fast & Furious flicks, his biceps…it’s all big and Skyscraper has big in abundance. Clearly riffing from the Die Hard manual of action movies (and, yes, The Towering Inferno), Skyscraper is a 102-minute bang-a-thon – because everywhere you turn, something is going BANG. Story wise, it’s as flimsy as they come and the majority of the best moments are in the trailer and, let’s face it, without Johnson’s charisma and family guy/hero performance, the movie would burn in the inferno of the skyscraper too.

 

That’s not to say that Johnson makes this a good movie, because it isn’t, but he delivers what you would expect him to – all whilst being down one limb, which was an interesting idea that did temporarily take away part of what Johnson brings to these movies. It’s become cliché now, but it’s quite hard to dislike The Rock. Returning to the big screen after a long absence, Neve Campbell is strong in her role, and crucially she isn’t relegated to wailing mother – she more than holds her own here.

 

There’s nothing in the movie that will come as any sort of surprise, which in itself shouldn’t come as a surprise but no boundaries are pushed here. Some of the visuals look good, but when they’re bad, they’re pretty naff looking.  The ‘sphere’ within the building would give anyone with vertigo or a fear of heights an aneurysm and that looked OK – even if it did lend itself to a horrendous final act plot point. Ugh. Lots of people do things which make no sense – including simply standing in the streets and watching, cheering, gasping and looking like extras – and most of the movie is eye-rollingly average – whilst the movies that influenced Skyscraper had similar moments/atmosphere, they had the extra je ne sais quoi required to remain memorable and just simply decent.

 

Dwayne Johnson seems to be in about fifteen movies a year, and whilst some are wildly entertaining and fun, others are crap – simply put. This one falls firmly into the latter category, despite having some potential hidden away somewhere within the story. Without expecting much from Skyscraper, it still falls short of being average.

July 26th 2018

© 2016 Matt Hudson / What I Watched Tonight / Essex

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