What is Skyscraper? If you ask Dwayne Johnson, he'll tell you that it's an homage to films such as Die Hard and The Towering Inferno. A throwback to the great action-adventures of yesteryear that just don't get made anymore. To others, it's yet another mindless summer blockbuster that lacks ambition. Me, I'm just impressed that Johnson continues to find projects that put his characters in increasingly difficult situations. In the past three years, he has dealt with everything from earthquakes to genetically-mutated super creatures. That's not even including Vin Diesel. This time, a 220-story building (three times the size of the Empire State Building) set ablaze by terrorists.
Rawson Marshall Thurber, who previously collaborated with Johnson on Central Intelligence, wrote and directed Skyscraper. The premise is absurd, yet inexplicably self-serious in execution. You'd never guess that this was the work of a (primarily) comedic filmmaker. Thankfully, however, the movie is also sneakily engaging. The family dynamic worked well, Neve Campbell playing a large part in that, and it made me care about the outcome. The action sequences are pulse-pounding, and I caught myself holding my breath on more than one occasion. The crown-jewel of which is the "Crane Jump" scene that features prominently in the trailer. If you have a fear of heights, this may not be the movie for you.
Johnson's performance is passable, but he continues to struggle with the more dramatic beats. They attempt to give the character some pathos, but there is not enough development to evoke any emotion. The role is so bland and plays so flat that I'm stunned Johnson wasn't able to cover it up with his natural charisma. I also struggled with the idea of him being an insecure Everyman. Especially not after his numerous displays of upper-body strength, the likes of which this world has never seen.
Unsurprisingly, the script is the Achilles-heel of Skyscraper. The dialogue is clunky and overly expository. There is also an inexplicable amount of winking at what's to come. The first act is there to tell you exactly how the ending will play out. Furthermore, I noticed a few gaps in logic that pulled me out of the experience. To top it all off, the villain is weak and, beyond the inciting incident, doesn't move the plot forward. Try all you will, Mr. Thurber, Hans Gruber they are not.
Is Skyscraper going to be viewed as an all-time classic? No. Will I even remember it next week? Probably not, but I do think it's enjoyable enough that you won't be feeling the pangs of regret once the end credits begin to roll.
Rating: 5/10 (Average)