I’m a big fan of Dwayne Johnson. What ever he’s in, I’m automatically going to watch no matter what as he packs a star quality that’s been missing in movies for fifteen years. I guess with every action star, it’s an oath they take that they must have their own “Die Hard” in their repertoire, and “Skyscraper” is that inevitable point in Dwayne Johnson’s career as a big screen hero prone to playing men staring down impossible odds. I’m sad to see that “Skyscraper” is about as bland and forgettable a vehicle as it gets, which is a shame since the premise has at least some potential to be quite an exciting twist on a creaky, worn formula turned sub-genre.
Johnson plays former FBI Hostage Rescue Team leader and U.S. war veteran Will Sawyer, who, after a disastrous hostage situation is rendered an amputee. After falling in love with his doctor and marrying her, he’s now a family man and part time skyscraper… security… assesser… er? Anyway, he’s contracted by a corporation to oversee the security for an immense skyscraper in China nicknamed “The Pearl.” Things spiral out of control when Will’s family visits the skyscraper, and are caught in a massive blaze in the building when it’s ignited by a group of terrorists seeking crucial information. Now with Will hell bent on saving his family from certain death, he hopes to reach them before it’s too late.
Oddly enough “Skyscraper” aims for a broader (let’s face it, exclusively international) audience appeal, so while it’s definitely PG-13 there isn’t much material here to warrant the rating. There’s certainly gun fire and some heavy one on one fights, but mainly it’s a film built for a larger audience who might consider “Die Hard” much too violent and gritty. To its credit, Johnson is very good as a family man and fits in to the role well, especially when playing off of Neve Campbell. I also really enjoyed how she was a lot less a damsel in distress calling for help, and more getting active and working toward saving her kids. I even grinned when she took down a henchman who had her at knife point. That said, despite the great cast, and interesting mixing of premises, “Skyscraper” fails to engage, feeling so generic and bland as it chugs along.
Even at ninety minutes, it’s a struggle to sit through and lacks any kind of excitement or energy within the seams of its story. I almost had to focus to keep my attention to what becomes a repetitive and ho hum action picture. Sans the first scrap with Johnson and Pablo Schreiber, there’s simply nothing here that pops out, and Johnson doesn’t break loose like he does in films like “Fast and the Furious.” I love the idea of a hero unencumbered by his disability, I love the idea of a mom and dad hero struggling to save their kids, I love the concept of mixing “Towering Inferno” with “Die Hard.” It’s just the writers and producers never do anything remotely good with any of it. But at least we get an absolutely clear confirmation that “Skyscraper” is set in Hong Kong. That international box office means everything. I’m a big fan of Johnson, and it’s great to see Campbell back, they’re just bogged down by such a sub-par, dull, by-the-numbers action vehicle.