Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Roland Møller
Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Running Time: 102 mins
Skyscraper is an American film about a man who, after seeing the skyscraper on which he works as security advisor go up in flames, does everything to save his trapped family from the blaze.
To be honest, when you’re given the premise of what is effectively Dwayne Johnson versus a skyscraper on fire, what more would you expect? Although the film does have a good few entertaining moments, and certainly gets better as it goes along, it’s a generally underwhelming and overly ridiculous affair, and one that neither utilises the charismatic qualities of its star man nor the potential of its disaster movie premise to full effect, meaning it’s just not that exciting a watch at any point.
First off, the film’s biggest problem by a mile is its opening act, which is a dull twenty to thirty minutes of unnecessary setup and little else. Skyscraper has an action premise that’s somewhat comparable to Die Hard, a film that also doesn’t burst into its action right from the first shot, but the big difference is that Die Hard uses its opening act to establish the character of John McClane, bring in some emotional drama, and establish some tension that makes the first burst of action all the more exhilarating.
This, on the other hand, starts off with a quick portrayal of the location and the scale of the enormous skyscraper at the centre of the story, and then starts getting caught up in showing off fancy visual effects for no good reason, all the while setting up the characters’ story arcs in painfully predictable fashion, and even bringing some major twists all the way forward to the first half of the movie, meaning there’s no intrigue left for the remainder.
As a result, you’re left with a dull opening act that’s worsened by a screenplay with some very basic dialogue, and it makes for a rather painful wait for the first bit of action, where we get to see The Rock really show his stuff in the way he always does.
Now, once the action gets going, things do get better, and there are some very entertaining vertigo-inducing moments along with some impressively ridiculous action set-pieces here and there. However, what I was most disappointed by in this movie was how it failed to use the star quality of Dwayne Johnson himself.
As one of Hollywood’s biggest stars at the moment, Johnson is an effortlessly likable guy who manages to inject energy and charisma into films that often don’t have that much to them otherwise. Skyscraper, however, features a screenplay that gives him such a generic character that even he can’t bring all that much likability to the movie, with director Rawson Marshall Thurber failing to let him free to use his natural abilities to make the film a more enjoyable watch.
In short, Skyscraper is a film that delivers on what you’d expect – a loud and generic blockbuster with some good action and little else – however it disappoints on numerous fronts in which similar movies have succeeded, including failed character development and poor use of its main star, and that’s why I’m giving it a 6.6 overall.