Skyscraper movie review: This homage to Die Hard has The Rock playing one-note hero
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson invites you once again to mash into your popcorn for big screen silliness with Skyscraper, but popping in the DVDs of the original Die Hard trilogy may be a better option
It’s been 30 years since the original Die Hard film hit theaters, so it is only natural that we get a soft homage to the film. It is of course another matter that said homage, titled Skyscraper is just a run-of-the-mill big-and-dumb blockbuster starring The Rock as the one character he’s played his entire life.
Skyscraper, directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber, is an amalgamation of his earlier work. It’s got the energy of the stoner comedy Dodgeball and the big Rock showcase and utter lack of brains of Central Intelligence. For the third time in six months (Jumanji, Rampage), The Rock becomes the ultimate hero who stands up against escalating odds. This time he’s an ex-FBI agent and now current security head at Hong Kong’s fictional Pearl tower — the tallest building in the world. He also lives in the building with his wife (Neve Campbell — returning to screens after years!) and kids. Things take a turn when a tablet is discovered that apparently has some valuable blackmail-worthy information and a mercenary named Botha (Roland Moller) shows up with his gang to set fire to the building, causing gigantic chaos.
You can guess the progression of events: hero is duped by the baddie, hero is chased by both cops and baddies, and hero needs to save his wife so hero partakes in insane stunts to rectify everything. So if you’re looking for ridiculous action set pieces that defy all possible laws of gravity and rolls gleefully in the mud of disaster movie clichés this is the film to watch over your favourite alcoholic beverage. There’s of course the sequence shown in the trailers where the Rock jumps off a crane and reenters the building through a cracked window, but it’s just one of the many entertainingly ludicrous things in the film. On the bright side, director Thurber seems to be completely unconcerned with reality so he doesn’t hold back on making things engagingly implausible. There are a few over the top twists and turns executed with passive faced seriousness which somehow work as well, whether or not you assume the laughs they generate were intentional. Moreover every story beat — including the gold-hearted everyman saving the family bit — is such a throwback to '80s and '90s cinema, it’s actually kind of endearing.
On the downside, there’s a generous amount of bad acting in the film, particularly from Hannah Quinliven who was no doubt stunt cast to target the Asian markets. This is also another film that demonstrates that the increasing dependence on China revenue has created an odd vacuum in Hollywood to churn out content containing specific Chinese variables, none of which are good. If big-and-dumb continues to become the norm, it leaves little room for studios to experiment with blockbuster form because it’s just easy to choose a big star and slap a Chinese sticker on him. One also wonders if The Rock is actually happy with the kind of films he makes — he does make a boat load of money but he’s fast becoming the Adam Sandler of action cinema — churning out four eye-roll inducing films a year. He invites you once again to mash into your popcorn for big screen silliness, but it’s up to you whether that’s a worthy investment or popping in the DVDs of the original Die Hard trilogy is a better option.
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