Coming off a string of movies with huge box office wins (Jumanji, Fast 7, Rampage), Dwayne ‘’The Rock’’ Johnson might well be the most bankable film star in the world. There are a couple list of reasons his movies are so popular, and no, quality isn’t one of them.
No one visits the Cineplex to see Dwayne Johnson demonstrate Denzel Washington levels acting range, or to topline moderately priced Oscar bait dramas.
Everyone comes to The Rock for some reliable escapism; the bigger, the dumber, the better. Who doesn’t score some kind of thrill, living vicariously through the former WWE professional wrestler- and his bulking physique- as he wreaks havoc, and unleashes destruction on his way to saving the world from certain doom? Watching The Rock charm his way through mediocre written fare armed with a sprinkling of comic lines and a healthy dose of self-awareness is indeed everyone’s favorite summer past time. At least according to recent box office estimates.
Everyone is in on the joke. Everyone is happy to play along.
Skyscraper comes across as one of those big money plays Hollywood has learnt to make in order to seize a large chunk of foreign box office takings, particularly in Asia. Set in Hong Kong, Skyscraper sports a cast of Asians in supporting roles, including Singapore star, Ng Chin Han as a billionaire who masterminds the world’s tallest building, a 3,500feet, 225 stories tall artificial wonder of technology and futurism named ‘’The Pearl.’’ Throw in an European accented villain and the international market play is alive and thriving.
From the moment the camera focuses on ‘’The Pearl’’, and Johnson’s William Sawyer is guided through the building’s wonders, it is quite obvious what is coming next. Like the biblical tower of Babel, The Pearl, is merely set up to be destroyed spectacularly, in a combustible cloud of fireworks and CGI. The Rock will do his bit, including breaking the laws of science and gravity, to save the magnificent structure but Hollywood capitalistic rules insist that it must burn.
Skyscraper does burn. And Dwayne Johnson comes in to save the day as the distressed father putting everything on the line to rescue his beloved family trapped within the towering inferno.
Johnson plays Sawyer as an efficient if nervous security consultant and doting family guy who arrives Hong Kong with his family to take up a job offer at The Pearl. He is hosted by billionaire Zhao (Chin Han) on the recommendation of a former colleague, Ben (Pablo Schreiber) who served with Sawyer in the FBI hostage rescue special force.
Both were forced into retirement after a rescue attempt went horribly wrong and Sawyer suffered the loss of a lower limb. Nursed back to life by his wife, Sarah (Neve Campbell), a combat surgeon, Sawyer has been outfitted with a modern prosthetic limb, a useful plot device that not only helps Sawyer run around the city as he tries to save his family, but manages to serve as an inclusivity prop as well .
Sawyer may have only one leg but don’t expect to feel sorry for him. Skyscraper isn’t about that angle and so every potential weakness is ultimately a form of strength. Written and directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber, Skyscraper, in its own way, champions the agency of people living with disabilities and gives Neve Campbell way more to do than the wife of the hero would usually get in films like these.
The screenplay is far from original, chock full of clichés and homages to disaster films like The Towering Inferno, but thanks to some tight editing and thrilling set pieces, Skyscraper is a hugely entertaining, if divinely reckless popcorn flick.
Action packed from start to finish, Skyscraper has scenes that are jaw dropping coexisting alongside moments that are terribly cheesy. But Dwayne Johnson is a handy action star and if anyone can carry a basic actioner like this and elevate it to something genuinely watchable, he is the man.