Directed by: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Runtime: 102 minutes
Sometimes you see a movie because you believe it may be a new masterpiece—you think that a certain director or writer is about to blow you away with impeccable storytelling, challenging you to think about the world in a different way. Other times, you go because you want to see a super-charged Dwayne Johnson scale a building with duck tape and rope. And with Skyscraper, this is exactly what you get.
Here, Dwayne (I honestly already forget his character’s name) is an ex-military security officer, tasked with clearing the security of a world record-breaking skyscraper ‘The Pearl’. An architectural and technological marvel, the building is placed front and centre, as some baddies (again, no idea of their names) decide to start a fire inside. The fire blazes, trapping Dwayne’s family inside. The rest of the film is just an excuse for action, explosions, and one-liners, with little regard for its plot or setup.
When it comes to the popcorn movie, you could get a lot worse. The action sequences are vastly entertaining, some verging on extremely tense. As action-heroes go, Johnson’s personality and energy really do a lot to make his character more engaging. Even his family, characters who are usually reduced to the ‘screaming victims’ role in other films, are quite well-rounded and interesting, his wife (Neve Campbell) proving constantly that she can hold her own. This family relationship proves to be the backbone of the film, giving even the most ridiculous of situations some much needed stakes.
When the movie does what it says on the tin, it excels. However, when it tries to be more, it falters. Sometimes it is hard to be sure whether this is supposed to be cheesy fun or taken seriously. The villains are one-dimensional and dull, and the main plot quickly goes from non-existent to nonsensical. A lot of time is spent explaining away the security measures of the building, or the MacGuffin the baddies want their hands on. The script attempts to address the villains’ motivations, but it is difficult to understand why anyone would think setting fire to the world’s largest building was a well put-together plan for stealing a hard drive.
Overall, the film is a mix of Towering Inferno and Die-Hard—just not as good as either of those flicks. I didn’t expect a cinematic masterpiece, but unfortunately, this popcorn flick was a little too weighed down by its own ambition. If you want to see Dwayne Johnson, playing himself, running through flames—then go ahead, grab yourself a ticket.