Legendary Pictures/Flynn Picture Company/Seven Bucks Productions/Universal Pictures
Written and Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber
Produced by Beau Flynn/Dwayne Johnson/Hiram Garcia/Mary Parent
See, I’m about to waste your time taking 500 or so words to tell you about this movie when it can be summed up in the nine-word review Patricia gave me when the end credits started. I quote: “That’s the baddest one-legged man I’ve ever seen.” And she’s absolutely right. Going by the trailers you would naturally have expected that Dwayne Johnson playing a character with a prosthetic leg would mean that would be a large part of the story and factor into the trials and tribulations he has to face. Nope. Johnson’s character goes through the movie with barely a limp and fearlessly flings himself across blazing chasms, leaping from cranes half a mile in the air to a burning building without missing a step (sorry, couldn’t resist) all while battling heavily armed mercenaries. You name it, he does it and isn’t bothered by the leg a bit. And maybe that’s the point. We know that in real life there are amputees that do incredible physical feats and if that was the intention of the movie, to show that amputees can be action heroes I stand up and applaud it. All I’m saying is don’t make such a huge deal about Our Hero being an amputee in the trailers when in the actual movie it’s not an impediment to him doing his hero thing.
Will Sawyer (Dwayne Johnson) lost a leg below the knee when he worked for the FBI as a Hostage Negotiator. But as the saying goes, one door closes and another opens. He wouldn’t have met his wife Sarah (a very good and appealing Neve Campbell) and had two charming twins Georgia (McKenna Roberts) and Henry (Noah Cottrell) if he hadn’t lost that leg. Ten years after leaving the FBI sees Will making a good living as a security consultant. His latest client is Zhao (Chin Han) a Tony Stark level technologist who has designed and constructed The Pearl, the world’s tallest skyscraper standing at 240 stories high. It’s one of those movie skyscrapers that has an interior that looks more like the bridge of the starship Enterprise than someplace people actually would live in. It’s got it’s own forest complete with a ten-story high waterfall, fer cryin’ out loud. And the gigantic pearl colored sphere atop the building that gives it its name is itself a holographic virtual reality observation deck.
But that’s part of the design. It’s supposed to be a self-contained city in the middle of Hong Kong. And before Zhao allows residents to start living there he wants to make sure the security systems are impregnable. Will inspects them and says they are. Too bad nobody told Kores Botha (Rolland Moller) and his army of multinational mercenaries that. In a ridiculously short amount of time they take over The Pearl and start a fire that traps Zhao in the penthouse. The fire also traps Sarah and the kids inside the building as Botha and his crew have sealed off the building so that no one can get in or out. Can Will rescue his family and find out why Botha is going to such insane lengths to capture Zhao? Are you kidding me? How many Action Movies have you seen?
I only know the director Rawson Marshall Thurber from “Dodgeball” which I love and “Central Intelligence” which I didn’t hate. But going by “Central Intelligence” and SKYSCRAPER, if he’s looking for a career writing and directing Action Movies, he’s got one. There’s familiar elements here from at least a dozen movies. The basic premise is a mash-up of “Die Hard” and “The Towering Inferno.” There’s a climatic fight scene that will remind you of (and I’m not kidding) the fight between Bruce Lee and the bad guy Han in “Enter The Dragon.” But Thurber understands that the business of an Action Movie is action. If you slow it down a bit for characterization and plot exposition then, dammit, you better have a fight scene, an explosion, or a totally preposterous stunt to follow it up and keep things moving.
Johnson tends to play a family man in most of his action movies and by now he can play the distraught daddy who dares everything and anything to save his loved ones in his sleep. He and Neve Campbell play very well together and I wonder if The Rock has any say in his female co-stars in his because he has a knack for having excellent chemistry with them. The kids are cute and act like kids instead of pint-sized adults with potty mouths.
SKYSCRAPER is a tight and efficient action thriller that clocks in at 102 minutes which also is refreshing because not every summer CGI blockbuster has to be two hours and change. You’ve heard me say many times that I have the utmost respect for a movie that knows what it is and does it well and this one fits that criteria perfectly. SKYSCRAPER is undemanding in terms of concept and story but if all you want is Old School Action Movie then this will do. Enjoy.