I love a good popcorn movie. I don’t need to leave every theater having learned a lesson. Not every story needs to confront a great harm or reached a new level of enlightenment. Sometimes I just want to see things on fire or watch ludicrous rescue-in-progress shenanigans. If you throw in some snarky dialogue and a fight scene or two, I’m really there. I know I’m not alone. The entire Bruce Willis and the Die Hard franchise stand as proof positive y’all are out there watching too. So, you can safely assume I went to see Dwayne Johnson in Skyscraper from Universal Pictures.
Grab some snacks and a group of friends who appreciate a heist movie that doesn’t want you to know it’s a heist movie until you’re well into the mayhem and hit the theater. This is definitely a see it on a big-ass screen movie.
What’s the Story Behind That Skyscraper?
After a fatal miscalculation during a hostage negotiation costs Will Sawyer (Dwayne Johnson) part of his leg and his career with the FBI, Sawyer starts a security consultant business. His new gig takes him to Hong Kong with his family. Sawyer’s giving a security report on The Pearl so it can be insured. The Pearl is the pet project of billionaire developer Zhao Long Ji (Chin Han). It’s the largest building in the world and Zhao is impatient to open the residential levels of his building.
This 200-plus story techno-wonder (that totally made me think of Daniel Suarez’s descriptions in his book Change Agent) is a self-contained city. But it’s a city without inhabitants until Zhao can satisfy the insurance underwriters. While Sawyer does the pretty for the insurance people, his wife Sarah (Neve Campbell) and their twins (McKenna Grace and Noah Cotrell) spend the day at the zoo before returning their rooms in The Pearl.
But someone wants The Pearl to burn no matter the cost. From that you guess, Sawyer will find himself betrayed, set-up, screwed over and frantic to get back to The, now inflamed, Pearl to save his family.
The twist isn’t really a twist (you’ll see it coming) but the turns to get there are pretty intense. This film is an exercise in discovering what a person is willing to risk their life for.
On another high note, there are no damsels here. Sara may find herself and their children in peril but she doesn’t sit around waiting to be rescued. She wicked smart, savvy, and unafraid to get her hands dirty. It was nice to see a not-crying for no reason Neve Campell again.
Don’t Think So Hard It’s Summertime
Skyscraper is a ‘B-movie’ just like Die Hard and The Towering Inferno. It makes the most of its premise of on setting all the things on fire then having someone run through it as time runs out. It’s cheesy summertime fun at the movies.
It’s not gonna win any awards but writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber brings the cinematic glory with death-defying feats and dizzying views from a myriad of camera angles and shots.
The action picks up relatively early in the story and keeps ratching up until the end – as action movies should.
People are going to die. Not as many as could’ve (let’s hear it for efficient evacuations) but there’s plenty of gunfire and executions before all is said and done.
I don’t know how that’s avoidable because part of the plot requires seizing control of The Pearl. Last time I checked, bad guys didn’t say please or thank you.
So, if you’re one of those “why the ‘needless’ violence ” kind of moviegoer maybe skip this one. The rest of us will find it completely rational that violent intent leads to violent actions and be just fine.