Film review by Jason Day of the disaster movie Skyscraper, starring Dwayne Johnson as a man battling to save his family who are trapped at the top of the world’s tallest building, set alight by criminals.
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Years after he loses a leg during a hostage situation, former FBI Agent Will Sawyer (Dwayne Johnson) has trained as a security expert, is happily married to Rachel (Neve Campbell) and has two children.
He gets a lucky break when he is asked by a friend (Pablo Schreiber) to review the security and safety systems of the world’s tallest building, The Pearl, situated in Hong Kong.
But shortly after his presentation to the building’s wealthy owner Long Ji (Chin Han), the building is attacked by an organised crime syndicate, whom Long has a mysterious connection to. The tower is set ablaze and, with his family trapped above the fire line, Sawyer has to battle to get inside to save them, dodging the police, flames and bullets.
Review, by Jason Day
***Vomit alert. Mention of my testicles in this review***
The Towering Inferno (1974) was, without question, the best of the glut of disaster dramas released in the seventies. The Academy felt so, as they rewarded it with a Best Picture Oscar nod.
Classy, with a faint whiff of old style Hollywood elegance amidst the smoke, it was also one of the longest, a whopping 3 hours (don’t worry if you hate long films – this one only weighs in at 1 hour 42 minutes).
What this second remake of Inferno (the first was the wonderfully OTT South Korean The Tower released in 2012) lacks in terms of epic, frighteningly real set pieces, orchestrated so they crescendo to a mighty climax, it more than makes up for with physically pummelling action, stunt work and migraine inducing camerawork and special effects.
Back to that mention of my ‘man berries’ (the first and I hope last mention of those parts in any review of mine. But mention them here I must, because the vertigo inducing sequences in Skyscraper are seriously intense.
As the elevator whisks The Rock to The Pearl’s penthouse, the camera suddenly spins around and upside down to reveal the forest floor below. This gets the stomach going, but is merely a taster.
At two key points and in time with a sudden lurch of my stomach, my testicles ascended into a part of my anatomy I had not hitherto been acquainted with. An unusual reaction toe a film I know, but also completely unexpected and uncontrollable, I promise.
These scenes are, firstly, when The Rock attempts to gain entry to The Pearl by using a crane. Conveniently, this is stashed about 100 stories up, helping him to jump the final few feet. (A quick aside – check out the poster included above. The marketing bods have whacked on enough extra meters so that only an Olympic Long Jumper could tackle. The memes online will have you chuckling).
The second is when he traverses the outside of the building with duct tape on his hands and feet so he can stick to the windows like a muscled car Garfield, eventually dangling upside down on a rope. Squirm inducing? I could hardly sit still in my cinema seat. Just thinking about it makes me…ooops! Up they go again!
I’ve written before about the thrill of being physically affected by a movie (paralysed with fear during Ouija: Origin of Evil and needing some proper time out to recover from a few minutes of The Hills Have Eyes) but I draw the line at my dangly bits being impacted.
Skyscraper isn’t the finest film (few disaster dramas ever are) but there are some proper clangers in here. Leaving aside the poster/gravity blooper, A TV reporter’s voice-overs refers to “The Tower of Babble”, that well-known chatterbox erection from biblical times.
The all-important iPad that the baddies swipe from The Rock, stuck between himself and a hard place, needs his face to be scanned to be used. But then, the cover is closed (usually locking them again) and the iPad used again and again! Finally, a tech-guy disables this function – how pointless!
Another aside – are we humans impotent when dealing with fall-out from God Box that is the iPad? Is Skyscraper trying to make a serious point about the cataclysms that can result from putting too much power and too much trust into these handily portable computers? Discuss amongst yourselves!
Being a co-producer is a handy thing for a strapping star who wants his physical prowess ramped up to the max. In one scene, dear Dwayne holds a bridge “steady” whilst his family clamber over it. It must weigh tonnes, but steady it he duly does, leading to their safe rescue and some hearty laughs from yours truly at the preposterousness of the moment.
Near the end of the movie, Sawyer’s daughter is taken by the baddies to the roof to be chucked off if Sawyer doesn’t help them gain access to the penthouse suite. Sawyer, after rather too swiftly completing the aforementioned duct-rape and rope adventure, gets into the penthouse and stops for a quick chat about why the owner is being chased by the baddies. Why doesn’t he get an update as the two walk to rescue his daughter?
Still, putting my pedantic views to one side, this is still a roaringly good action spectacle one you’ll get some decent thrills from. For the fellas who go, I pray no one else endures any cinematic ‘scrotal recall’.
Cast & credits
Director: Rawston Marshall Thurbar.1hr 42 mins (102 mins). Legendary Entertainment/Flynn Picture Company/Seven Bucks. (12a).
Producers: Beau Flynn, Hiram Garcia, Dwayne Johnson, Mary Parent.
Writer: Rawston Marshall Thurbar.
Camera: Robert Elswit.
Music: Steve Jablonsky.
Sets: James D. Bissel.
Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Chin Han, Pablo Schreiber, Noah Taylor, McKenna Roberts, Kevin Rankin, Roland Moller, Byron Mann, Matt O’Leary, Hannah Quinlivan, Beatrice King.