Review – The subdued silliness of ‘Skyscraper’ suggests The Rock doesn’t know his own strength

Luke Stevenson is one of the hosts of The Popcorn Muncher Podcast. He is only serious about Bee Movie.

Poster for 2018 action movie Skyscraper

Genre: Action
Certificate: 12
UK Release Date: 12th July 2018
Runtime: 102 minutes
Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Writer: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Chin Han, Roland Møller, Noah Taylor, Hannah, Quinlivan, Pablo Schreiber
Synopsis: A safety expert brought into assess the world’s tallest building must rescue his family, who become trapped within it when terrorists light the building on fire.

 

 

“This is stupid,” says Dwayne Johnson’s character as he prepares to take another trip on to the outside of a building three times the size of the Empire State Building, with only a rope and some duct tape for support. This is one of the few nods and winks to the audience that this preposterously written movie has, and one of the gags that helps this movie just about scrape over the line as a piece of summer cinema fun that, overall, is basically satisfying.

Johnson plays Will Sawyer. He’s a former SWAT negotiator with a prosthetic leg, following an injury on the job. Now, his new career is as a consultant, tasked with checking the safety of the world’s tallest building before it can be fully opened. He and his wife (Neve Campbell) are the first to try out the residential part of the lavish Hong Kong structure, and they’ve brought their kids along for the party. As you can imagine, this doesn’t all go to plan. There’s a conspiracy and malicious forces at play, and this culminates with the top half of the building being on fire. Sawyer’s family are in that half, obviously, and he needs to get back into the building to save them and scupper the bad guys’ plans.

A frustration of this movie is that it doesn’t know its strengths. It has The Rock – master of the wink to camera – as its lead, but it doesn’t embrace its silliness enough. Skyscraper clearly has an eye for spectacle when dealing with the outside of its structure, and some scenes are truly gasp-inducing, but it spends far too much time indoors. In those scenes, it could be literally any action movie, squandering its premise.

The best way of summing up Skyscraper is to say it’s a mixture of The Walk and Die Hard, without really hitting the heights – sorry – of either. With that being said, it contains a slew of committed performances. The Rock always gives it his all and when writer-director Rawson Marshall Thurber – still best known for Dodgeball – realises his best asset is the monstrous structure the film is built around, it really does shine.

It also paints a positive, diverse picture. There’s a multicultural cast revolving around a mixed-race marriage and Sawyer has a physical disability that actively plays a role in the action, rather than just being paid lip service towards. Skyscraper is enjoyable fare, but you can’t help but feel that, in the hands of a better action craftsman than Thurber, who displays a stunning lack of humour here despite being a comedy director, this movie might really have soared.

 

Pop or Poop?

Rating: Pop!

The true silliness potential of Skyscraper goes untapped in the face of a surprisingly serious take on the material from Rawson Marshall Thurber. All of The Rock’s charisma is on show and the performances are very committed across the board. When it embraces the heights of its premise and allows The Rock to go full action hero, it works, but it spends far too much time indoors.

 

Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.

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