Skyscraper Lacks Inspiration, but is Still a Fun Ride

Dwayne Johnson is back in theatres for the fifth time in less than two years with Skyscraper (The Fate of the Furious, Baywatch, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Rampage being his last four films).  The best way to describe Skyscraper is to say that it is a cross between The Towering Inferno and Die Hard, but the question is, will it be entertaining?  Before I get to that, here is a brief plot synopsis.

Will Sawyer (Dwayne Johnson) is a former FBI Hostage Rescue Team leader who is now in charge of assessing the security of a brand new building called “The Pearl”, which will be the largest skyscraper in the world when it officially opens. Will needs to do one more run-through off-site to make sure all the systems are fully functioning and is escorted by his friend Ben to the location.  Of course, nothing goes as planned and Will is robbed.  The thieves don’t get what they want, which is a tablet that controls the building.  When Ben finds out that Will still has the tablet, he attacks Will.  Ben eventually tells Will that his family should not be in the building and thus begins a race against time to get back into the building before the fire engulfs “The Pearl”.  For good measure, there is a Russian terrorist group trying to get back a memory card that has the record of where all their money is hidden throughout the world.  Can Will save his family and stop the terrorists?  I’ll let you find out for yourself.  Here are my thoughts on the film?

The Good

Dwayne Johnson and Neve Campbell are quite good in this film. Dwayne plays an understated character, which is a nice change of pace to see for him, as in a lot of his previous films, he plays alpha males who shoot first and ask questions later (Side note – I would love to see Dwayne do some supporting roles in dramatic films in the future, as I think he has the acting chops to do it).  They make it known pretty quickly that his character has never picked up a gun since he left the FBI and has no intentions of doing so.  This makes his character a lot more resourceful in the action sequences, giving the film a MacGyver feel, which actually works quite well.  Neve Campbell plays his wife and she has great chemistry with Dwayne.  She also gets to be more than just a helpless victim in quite a few scenes, so that is always nice to see.  I actually wish we had more of her character in the film.

I liked the special effects in the film. There were a lot of shots of Dwayne’s character having to look 100-200 stories below him and I thought the effects were seamless.  The most impressive sequence to me was early in the film when two characters are inside the sphere at the top of “The Pearl” (I won’t go into more detail, but you will know the sequence I’m talking about if you see the film).  The other sequence that I really liked was the crane sequence that is used in all of the film’s marketing.  Could a person ever jump that far from that distance?  No.  Was I entertained.  Absolutely.  This sequence in the movie is the make or break one for moviegoers.  If you enjoy it, you’ll probably like the rest of the film.  If you find it too unbelievable, then you viewing experience will be negative (at least that is my opinion).

The Bad

Skyscraper is a film where you can spot every twist coming from a mile away. There are throw away lines that are mentioned at the beginning of the film that you know are going to be brought up again in the later half or characters who are introduced are giving camera shots that linger just a little too long to let you know that they may not be on the up and up.  The film is not trying to reinvent disaster films, but I do wish the script tried a bit harder to play against the conventions of the genre.  Instead, it is satisfied with being generic.  Even the last two minutes have cheesy slow-motion shots and a lame music playing while the film is wrapping up.  I think if Skyscraper had a little more inspiration in terms of plot and story, it would be a much better film.

Overall

Skyscraper is a fun and entertaining summer film that you will quickly forget about the moment you walk out of the theatre. At the end of the day, I have to admit that I was entertained, even if I was frustrated that the film was satisfied with being average.  I give the film 2.5 out of 4 stars.

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