File Under 2018 #87: Skyscraper


What it's about: Will Sawyer is a former FBI agent who is hired as a security assessor for the world's tallest building, a Hong Kong structure that will soon open its doors to residents. With his family the first guests to stay in the swanky building, they are soon caught up in a terrorist plot to retrieve something valuable locked inside. As one of the only people who know how the building's security measures work, Will has to risk his own life to save his family, breaking into the towering inferno to get them out alive. Not only is he in danger from the elements and the well armored men inside, but also by the Chinese officials who think he might have something to do with the plot.

Unorganized thoughts:

  • Skyscraper already has been granted the mantle of big dumb fun for its insane [and mindless] action. It's true: a lot that goes on in the blockbuster is ridiculous. And dumb. I'll admit that I, too, had a good time with Skyscraper, but don't think this is on any shortlist of Hollywood entertainments.

  • Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson stars and again puts in a solid performance. Sadly, though, Skyscraper doesn't give him a lot of fun riffing to do, just tasking him to be a generic action hero. It is a little surprising given director Rawson Marshall Thurber used The Rock as well as anyone in their first collaboration, Central Intelligence.

  • The "fun" of Skyscraper is limited to the crazy huge action sequences [jumping off a super-crane into a burning building is the centerpiece one found all over the film's marketing, but there are others to match]. There are surprisingly few laugh lines. Again, with Thurber and The Rock involved, it is surprising.

  • What is Will Sawyer's job exactly? It seems like he is just brought in as a consultant to give the final go-ahead that the building is safe, but he sure is granted a lot of access. It would be acceptable that he was the head of security, but there is another character who is called that. He's basically in a magical position to set the plot in motion without any actual defined role.

  • Neve Campbell plays Will's wife Sarah and is one of the bright spots of the film. Skyscraper revolves around Will doing whatever it takes to save Sarah and his two adorable kids, but Sarah is no damsel in distress. She's smart, skilled [a Naval doctor], willing to take risks, and can beat up Noah Taylor when she has to. It is a nice way to give a traditional character type a little more agency -- Sarah is involved in nearly as much action as Will.

  • Skyscraper's McGuffin, like Will's job description, is completely and laughably incomprehensible. When the film actually takes the time to explain the doodad that the baddies are trying to obtain actually is, it becomes even worse.

  • Given the film takes place primarily in one location, it does well to make the titular skyscraper pretty cool. The highlight is the top of the structure, called "The Pearl," the most expensive looking observation deck/VR experience ever created. The amount of tech shown off almost makes Skyscraper a sci-fi flick.

  • On paper, the ending is a creative twist on the house of mirrors chase scene. Unfortunately, the design of the room is too hi-tech, giving it a completely green screened look. It is still a fine sequence in its construction, but it looks too fake to completely work.

  • Aside from The Rock and Campbell, there is an impressive supporting cast. Chin Han plays the billionaire proprietor and continues to make a nice career out of being a random Chinese businessman in big Hollywood blockbusters [I'll always think of him in The Dark Knight, though]. Matt O'Leary, who was great in Brick and Natural Selection, plays a short-lived hacker with the most hacker-ish costuming ever. The aforementioned Noah Taylor is great as a sniveling insurance man.

  • If you told me that half of the production budget was paid for by the duct tape lobby, I wouldn't be surprised. In some ways, it is true hero of Skyscraper.