I miss when action films were fun. Thanks to the new need to appeal to global audiences, a good, silly action movie is increasingly difficult to find. Everything is so serious nowadays!
Thank goodness then, for Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. The Hardest Working Man in Hollywood™ is able to transcend the language and culture barriers so easily that he can help get the silly fun action movies back in front of big audiences. It happened earlier this year with Rampage (one of the best worst films I’ve ever seen) and he’s back again with Skyscraper, a loving homage/rip-off of films like Die Hard and The Towering Inferno.
Such as it is, the story of Skyscraper involves Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson playing a very big man with one leg and a family. He finds himself in a very tall building (in Hong Kong to appeal to the Chinese Market) called The Pearl, which is attacked by a group of European terrorists and/or thieves. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s character’s family is in the building when it catches on fire so that the film has some stakes.
From there you can pretty much fill in the blanks as to how this goes. Some supplementary information for you all: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s character hasn’t held a gun in 10 years. He lost his leg in an explosion when trying to de-escalate a hostage situation involving children. The building at the top of the skyscraper has a lot of glass panels that basically act as mirrors. The character of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s wife minored in Asian languages and they’re in Hong Kong. One of the kids has asthma.
That’s all a very long-winded way to say that Skyscraper is so derivative, one can go so far as to anticipate exactly what is going to happen before it happens. The thing is, this movie knows exactly what it is and just goes with it – meaning that the whole thing becomes a lot of silly fun.
One of the hardest things to determine when watching Skyscraper is whether a scene was played for laughs or if they were aiming for sincere. For instance, there’s one moment where Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s prosthetic leg comes off and he has to hop around fighting a bad guy. It’s utterly baffling and I laughed all the way through.
Beyond that there’s not a whole lot more that I care to say about this film. The acting is entirely fine, the pandering to Chinese audience is barefaced, the score is utterly forgettable, and the editing is all over the place. Even the fight scenes in the Uncharted fan movie thing were better choreographed.
None of that matters, however, because everyone going to see it is going for one big, tall, wide reason. It’s probably not a new observation, but Johnson’s output lately has survived almost entirely on his charm alone. He’s the new Schwarzenegger in all but accent, and thank God for that. We may get some utter rubbish like Skyscraper, but hey – at least it’s fun rubbish.