Skyscraper uses a narrative that began thriving in the 1980’s. It has an enclosed situation, thieves, captives, lots of fire, and one hero. Die Hard demonstrates how good a movie that can make. Also Under Siege, Speed, and Sudden Death. But it’s been decades since then and that idea grew tired. So it’s interesting that Skyscraper decides to follow that form. It begins by introducing Will Sawyer (Dwayne Johnson) as a SWAT team member whose leg gets severely injured in a mission. It then jumps to the future when he’s married, has two kids, and lives in the tallest building in the world known as “The Pearl”. He’s a security consultant being hired to measure the building’s safety for insurance coverage. All this happens with forward momentum – there are some warm moments involving Sawyer’s family and another as he tries communicating in Chinese with his employer (Chin Han). But trouble begins when the bad guys (led by Roland Møller) appear, both inside and out the building, setting part of it on fire. And Sawyer must use quick thinking and courage to find his way through the structure, rescue his family, and face the mastermind criminal in one of those big final encounters.
The movie is a high tech, fast moving film. Neve Campbell gives a good performance as Mrs. Sawyer. Her character is given military background and has a scene that she handles quite well. Dwayne Johnson is still developing himself as a dramatic actor and anyone who has seen him in 2013’s Snitch might agree that he has potential. In Skyscraper he’s given some impressive fight scenes (a living room gets ransacked) that require him to act encumbered due to his handicapped leg. The villains aren’t given much character traits and are hardly distinguishable – A team of men with beards, army vests, mean looking, and trained. The saying still goes that an action film is as good as its villains. Thankfully Skyscraper has a breathtaking setting. In a way, the building is part of the reason for the movie’s success. It appears as a CGI creation but still gets viewers considering its towering height, technology, and features – it even has an indoor park. Dwayne Johnson gets to climb in and outside windows. The rooftop has a state of the art chamber that evokes the climax from Bruce Lees Enter the Dragon. Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber, Skyscraper doesn’t achieve the goal of being a ‘Die Hard’ for our modern era but it still gets by on Johnsons’ star power, The Pearl, and the action sequences.