Monday, July 16, 2018

Tonight's Movie: Skyscraper (2018)

Three summers ago I thoroughly enjoyed Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson in the disaster film SAN ANDREAS (2015), which managed to simultaneously be absurd and completely entertaining.

Consequently, when I saw the trailer for SKYSCRAPER (2018) I thought "That's for me!" Normally I'd have trouble with the concept of kids trapped in a TOWERING INFERNO type situation but I was pretty sure the movie would be just goofy enough that I wouldn't take it seriously...and besides, there's no way the Rock's kids are going to die in the movie. Correct on both counts! (And if you think that's a spoiler I'm not sure what to say.)

Justin Chang's Los Angeles Times review, describing the movie as "blissfully stupid and thoroughly irresistible" sealed the deal so off I went, and I had a wonderfully good time.

The Rock plays Will Sawyer, a security expert called in to give a second opinion on the protection systems for a towering (sorry) new building in Hong Kong called the Pearl. Unfortunately a group of baddies (including Roland Moller and Noah Taylor) have it in for the building's owner (Chin Han) so they decide to wreak havoc, starting with setting the Pearl on fire.

Unfortunately Will's wife Sarah (Neve Campbell of PARTY OF FIVE) and their two kids (McKenna Roberts and Noah Cottrell) come back early from a zoo excursion and are trapped inside. It's up to Will to find a way to get them out.

The poster above says pretty much everything there is to say about Will's exploits in the movie, which defy the laws of physics time and again...and did I mention that Will has a prosthetic leg?!

It's a disaster movie mashed up with LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD (2007), complete with Hannah Quinlivan as a Maggie Q-style character who casually offs anyone in her way; and like LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD, there are also characters in service to the villains who neglect to deduce that they will be killed themselves the minute they're no longer useful. I've seen more people killed while sitting at computers in movies in the last few days than I could count!

There's some humor, intentional and otherwise, here and there to lighten things up. Johnson has the rare gift of being completely invested in his character, with the audience rooting for him all the way, while simultaneously having a light touch that communicates to the audience not to take it all too seriously. (I did wonder how many issues Will's kids would later have with PTSD after the harrowing situations they went through but then told myself not to go there...)

The movie hit peak bliss at the end, when a character said a line borrowed straight out of the finale of SAN ANDREAS, "We rebuild." Beautiful. It would be hilarious seeing those movies on a double bill.

Other things I liked: The interracial marriage of Johnson and Campbell, which reflects families I know myself, is never commented on. It just is. Johnson and Campbell have a very nice chemistry together, and Campbell's Sarah is no helpless damsel in distress, which was quite satisfying.

Likewise, there is very little emphasis on Will being disabled. He simply is, and life moves on. Indeed, he feels gratitude that the incident which took his leg led him to meet his wife, a former Army surgeon. An acquaintance of mine, Kristen Lopez, wrote an interesting review for SlashFilm about how the movie handles disability, and she got a shout-out on Twitter from the Rock himself!

Noah Taylor's duplicitous character may as well have been wearing a sign saying "I AM REALLY A BAD GUY," it was so obvious. On the other hand, I really enjoyed Chin Han as the somewhat mysterious owner of the Pearl. I also really liked Byron Mann as Inspector Wu and Elfina Luk as Sergeant Han, who work the crime scene from a police trailer near the Pearl.

SKYSCRAPER was written and directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber. It was filmed by Robert Elswit. The movie runs a satisfying not-too-long 102 minutes. These days it's always great when a movie ends when it should, rather than going on and on past the two-hour mark.

Parental Advisory: This film is rated PG-13 for non-bloody action sequences and "brief strong language." I wouldn't recommend it for young children, who would be more likely to take it seriously and be troubled by the peril, but otherwise, it's not particularly graphic in terms of either visuals or language.

Approached in the right frame of mind, SKYSCRAPER is very enjoyable summer fun. I had a good time and look forward to the Rock's next disaster movie. First, though, I'm tremendously looking forward to seeing him costar with Jason Statham in next year's FAST AND FURIOUS spinoff, HOBBS AND SHAW (2019).


Blogger DKoren said...

Hahaha! Since I felt the same as you about San Andreas, I will have to catch this one. Sounds like a ridiculous but fun ride... perfect for a hot summer day!! Somehow, I wasn't even aware of this movie! How did it slip past my radar???

6:58 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

If you liked SAN ANDREAS I feel pretty confident you're going to also like this one, Deb! So many impossible moments, where to begin?! LOL. But it's impossible not to like the Rock while it's all happening. And I really liked what they did with Neve Campbell's role, too. Do let me know what you think if you see it, it's the perfect summer popcorn movie.

Best wishes,

10:10 PM  

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