Skyscraper – Die Hard in The Towering Inferno It’s Not

Skyscraper – Will Sawyer (Dwayne Johnson) – Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures.

In Skyscraper, a man has to save his family from the world’s tallest building after a group of mercenaries set it ablaze.

It can’t decide if it wants to be goofy summer fun or an all-out disaster flick. The only real survivors of Skyscraper are Dwayne Johnson and Neve Campbell.

The movie opens with Will Sawyer leading an FBI team to secure a hostage situation. It goes bad and he loses his right leg below the knee in the process. In the hospital, before he goes into surgery, a nurse (Neve Campbell) assures him that he will be fine.

Skyscraper – Zhao Ming Zhi (Chin Han) – Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures.

The Pearl is, at 3,500 ft., the world’s tallest building.
Sawyer (Johnson) is the head of a small security company who has landed the gig to make sure the Pearl’s security is airtight and its safety protocols (like the fire treatment system) are, too.

He was recommended for the job by a friend who was on the same FBI team, Ben (Pablo Schreiber). Points if you know exactly who he is and what he’s going to do (Skyscraper’s not exactly a subtle movie).

Sawyer and his family – Sarah (Campbell) and twins Henry (Noah Cotrell) and Georgia (McKenna Roberts) – are already living in the building.

Skyscraper – Xia (Hannah Quinlivin) – Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures..

When he finishes his inspection of the building, he is given a tablet with codes to access the building’s off-site control center, while his family heads off to the zoo to see the panda.

Henry has an asthma attack, so Sarah and the twins head home early – where they encounter some ‘maintenance men’ just before the building is set ablaze.

What else?

Oh, yeah!

Skyscraper – Sarah (Neve Campbell) and Will Sawyer (Dwayne Johnson) – Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures.

When he’s getting a tour of the Pearl, the billionaire owner, Zhao Ling Ji (Chin Han) makes a point of showing him a very special room – a room where dozens of screens arise from the floor to create the illusion that there is no floor – and also to act like a maze of mirrors (if you suspect this might be the scene of the final shootout/brawl, go to the head of the class.

Written and directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber, Skyscraper is filled with obvious sequences and plotholes by the yard (for one thing, there are serious flaws with the film’s finale).

If, as you’ll hear from many critics, the movie wants to be Die Hard in The Towering Inferno, it fails on both counts.

Skyscraper – (L-R) Henry (Noah Cottrell), mom Sarah Sawyer (Neve Campbell), and sister Georgia (McKenna Roberts) – Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures.

The only character who might have been in the same ballpark as Die Hard’s Hans Gruber dies in the first act; and the thing about The Towering Inferno is that that whole building was packed with potential victims –and in skyscraper everyone except Sawyer’s family and a handful men in Zhao’s penthouse (one of whom is exactly what he’s not supposed to seem) is evacuated.

So, the stakes are considerably lower than either of the films Skyscraper wants to be, and simply underwhelms on every level beyond those supplied by Johnson and Campbell -she’s a combat surgeon who serves three tours in Afghanistan, so you know she’s afraid of a scrap.

The action sequences are Johnson spectaculars for the most part – though Campbell gets to show off a some moves in two sequences.

If Skyscraper had gone full disaster movie, or full tilt goofy summer fun (like Johnson’s last release, Rampage) it might have been a lot better.

Final Grade: C+

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