Whether or not you believe that Dwayne Johnson can save the day, Skyscraper will have the audience on the edge of their seat.
A brief prologue introduces us to Will Sawyer (Dwayne Johnson) when he was a FBI Hostage Rescue Team leader. We’re taken to the snowy cold of Ash Lake, Minn. where a a hostage situation is underway. One moment in time paves way for what happens in the future. We get a glimpse at Will’s meet-cute with naval surgeon Sarah (Neve Campbell) before cutting to present day. No longer with the FBI, Will is now examining security procedures for skyscrapers. His job takes him to visit to The Pearl in Hong Kong with his wife and two children, Georgia and Henry. After touring the facility, Will deems the building as safe as Fort Knox. Will is the only person standing in the way between The Pearl’s lucrative insurance policy.
Standing over 3,500 feet high, The Pearl is the tallest skyscraper in the world with some 220-plus stories. This includes a beautiful park that accounts for some 30 stories within the building. The majestic beauty overlooks the Victoria Harbour but at what cost? While Will tells Chinese software developer Zhao Long Ji (Chin Han) how safe the building is, there’s more here than meets the eye. A building as innovative as The Pearl surely would not suffer the same fate as the Titanic. The ship deemed to be unsinkable would meet its doomed fate after hitting an iceberg.
It turns out that The Pearl’s designer has some enemies at bay. One of them, Kores Botha (Roland Møller), manages to wrangle their way into the building after implanting a mole within Ji’s team. The camera framing plays up the mole aspect. We already know something’s going to happen but cinematographer Robert Elswit’s camera framing plays up the suspense anyway. Elswit is no stranger to these high-stakes thrillers in tall buildings with films like Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol under his belt Even for this high-stakes action thriller, it’s important to not let the audience in on this too early.
It’s amazing to think that writer-director Rawson Marshall Thurber is the same person behind comedies such as Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, We’re The Millers and Central Intelligence. Tonally speaking, Skyscraper is such a different film from the aforementioned comedies. Thurber brings something new in an industry obsessed with ready-made fan bases. Through the stakes at hand, Thurber’s screenplay has us emotionally involved the Sawyer family’s survival.
Make no mistake that Skyscraper is a very fast-paced film. I didn’t look at my watch once. Or maybe it’s because I was on the edge of my seat worrying about Dwayne Johnson’s safety as he dangled nearly a mile high above the ground in a burning Skyscraper. When a film has you care that much about the characters and stakes, it’s not just a good one but a great one. Yeah, there’s the Die Hard comparison but that’s beside the point. If I want to watch Bruce Willis save the day, I would have stayed home but Johnson’s performance alone makes Skyscraper worth viewing.
Johnson has everything you want in a leading man who saves the day. There’s something about watching him in Skyscraper that wasn’t there in Baywatch or Rampage. While Johnson played to his comedic side in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, there’s a more serious tone to his performance here. There’s nothing more important to a husband and father than the safety of his wife and children. It’s why we care so much about the Sawyer family as the minutes tick by.
With the stakes rising a scene at a time, Skyscraper was always going to be the film that offered pure escapist entertainment.
DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: Rawson Marshall Thurber
CAST: Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Chin Han, Noah Taylor, Roland Møller, Byron Mann, Pablo Schreiber, Hannah Quinlivan