Skyscraper is a 2018 action film written and directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber which stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson who also worked with the mentioned director in 2016’s Central Intelligence. The story pivots on his character Will Sawyer and his efforts to save his family from an immense Hong Kong building dubbed “The Pearl” that is set on fire by a group of dangerous terrorists.
Well, here we go again; Dwayne Johnson is back in a familiar role and by now, you are either a person who should know what to expect from a movie that features the former WWE wrestler or you are just a person who doesn’t care as long as the movie hits the right chords with you. I, for a fact, tend to align myself along the lines of “I know what to expect” because it’s almost the same script every single time with Johnson when you delve into the characters he has played in recent times and generally in his filmography. As an educated movie-goer, this factor can be a deterrent; maybe you want Johnson cast in more heartfelt roles where he is a family man and deals with certain problems that he can’t use his physique to fight out of as opposed to roles where he fights a lot and does daring stunts.
That said, this movie does give you both aspects in that his character goes to extreme lengths to try and rescue his wife and kids from an inferno that ravages a Chinese skyscraper and at the same time, he is presented with challenges that he obviously has to be physical in. Whether or not you, as this specific movie-goer, can take a compromise in relation to the latter is completely up to you.
Sawyer’s motivations in the story are as clear as day though there is little backstory if any at all aside from the fact that he is a former F.B.I agent; I was let down by that feature to the character and thus I don’t think he was written as well as he should have been. On the flipside, I found his journey throughout the film satisfactory. First off, he does face a few dilemmas where it is necessary that he picks a side case in point when he is surrounded by Chinese authorities who want to apprehend him for a crime he ‘committed’. I was drawn to the moment where he is contemplating on whether to obey the rule of law that he enforced back when he was in the task force or whether to attend to the apparent distress situation involving his family. I wouldn’t go out of my way to say that I wasn’t rocked by some of the situations that Will sawyer is faced with because I was; it was riveting to see the main protagonist dangling on a crane several feet in the air as he tried to unconventionally access this burning building. Additionally, it was great to see how much family meant to Dwayne Johnson’s character and the lengths he would go to make sure they were safe and sound.
As far as Neve Campbell’s character Sarah Sawyer is concerned, I thought the movie was going to go the damsel in distress route with her but I’m glad they didn’t; she does pull her weight around, she is actively involved in the struggle and in the grand scheme of things, I consider that a plus I took away from watching the photoplay.
Zhao Lang Ji as Chim Ham was relatively okay. He is the brain behind ‘The Pearl” and his role in the story is somewhat understandable; without him, the main conflict is not set in motion and normally, I don’t have problems with such characters in the various movies I have watched. The problem might come about when the plot relies solely on them but that’s not the case here.
The Plot, Merits and Demerits.
From my perspective, enticement is not the first thing that comes to mind when describing Skyscraper’s plot; nothing’s new in Hollywood these days and therefore you have probably seen a film with similar characteristics to this one. Despite the fact the stakes in play here are amplified with this skyscraper being this centre of attention, I didn’t particularly feel this film stand out in that respect.
Speaking of the ‘The Pearl’, there is quite a lengthy exposition in the 1st Act about it and its majesty which added no flesh to the narrative up until the latter stages. It was needless considering the skyscraper is already as much a character as the real characters are and therefore all this additional splendour to it that we are fed, except for some select instances, didn’t work for me. In fact, I think it was used to set up Zhao Ling Ji’s character in the most lethargic way possible. The villains in this story led by Kores Botha (Rolland Moller) are uninteresting and too plain; up until the point where they set the building on fire, I saw what their role was but from then on, when they embark on this ‘unfinished business’ quest, I fell off the wayside. The movie does explain to you that the two instances are indeed related but from my vantage point, I am convinced that their continued presence in the story was just a sorry subplot to get the Sawyer family involved and raise the stakes even further.
On the other side of the coin, I can appreciate the movie for establishing the main conflict early enough and not leading us on a path of filler subplots and filler dialogue as I have noticed with many other movies of its genre in the past. Moreover, Rawson Marshall Thurber’s direction was fine; I could tell he was on a mission of bringing us closer to the action as well as the story and for the most part, he succeeds at it. The cinematography is good too; the various shots of Will Sawyer doing the audacious stunts as a crowd watches down below were inclusive and I loved it.
If only there was a way I could tell you that I went into this motion-picture expecting the unexpected and eventually got what I wanted; I just didn’t. I knew what I was getting myself into before I decided to watch it considering it’s the legendary Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson at the helm. Whichever way you decide to view the treatment that I have given Skyscraper in my synopsis, my hope is that you give the movie a shot and watch it if you haven’t already. It’s a sincere hope as well.