By Khaleel Herbert
Will Sawyer (Dwayne Johnson), is a safety assessor for The Pearl, the tallest skyscraper in Hong Kong and the world with 220 floors, making the Empire State Building look like a toothpick.
The Pearl, designed by Zhao Long Ji (Chin Han), is a city all in one building with recreational features, a park and living facilities throughout. The mighty tower also holds a small dome at the top where you can see all of Hong Kong. The skyscraper has many gadgets, gizmos and self-maintenance features to keep it running smoothly. Things turn sour when thugs, led by Long Ji’s powerful enemy Botha (Roland Møller), set a floor of the mighty building on fire. Will’s family (Neve Campbell, McKenna Roberts and Noah Cottrell), who reside on a neighboring floor, have to escape the fire. It’s up to Will, who’s a mile away, to save them.
Let’s get the good news out of the way. “Skyscraper” gets kudos for having an interracial family as the main characters in the film. We get a nod toward the physically impaired community with Will and his prosthetic leg kicking booty and saving his skin on a regular basis. There’s plenty of fire, explosions and epic leaps of doom from Johnson.
Now let’s discuss the flaws. It’s hard to take The Rock as an action hero here. I haven’t seen his earlier work like “The Rundown” or “Walking Tall,” but I’m sure it’s waaaaaaaay better than “Skyscraper.”
It’s hard to take Will seriously because in the beginning of the film, there was a catastrophic event that affected him and gave him his prosthetic leg. Although he met his wife, this scene set a dark tone that kept us intrigued. But that tone didn’t carry throughout the movie like it should have. Flashbacks or PTSD, anyone? Not to mention he gave up serving his country to become a safety assessor. How did that happen? There are simple explanations that one could easily miss if they don’t pay attention.
Denzel Washington is one of the best action stars because he makes all of his characters realistic and believable. They all have flaws and regrets that are established early on. In “Man on Fire,” Creasy is a bodyguard who has to revert back to his old ways as an assassin to save a little girl. “The Taking of Pelham 123” has Walter Garber, a man with his own sins, reaching out to a man hijacking a train for money and to point fingers at society.
In Sylvester Stallone’s “Rambo” franchise, we have a man who struggles with his past as a human killing machine, save prisoners and his own colonel from enemy lines. These ghosts, flaws and checkered pasts make these characters moving and relatable. Some can relate to Will, but not in depth. This whole film lacks depth because the characters and plot are too straightforward and mediocre. Director Rawson Marshall Thurber should have used the formula he used in “Central Intelligence.” Both Johnson and Kevin Hart’s characters were meaningful and fun to watch.
The final straw of “Skyscraper” was the remedial ending. It makes the audience feel like ignorant little children.
For people who love Johnson in action, “Skyscraper” is a hit. But for those who want to chew on substance with their explosions and gunfire, “Skyscraper” lacks nourishment.
Studio: Universal (1hr. 42 min)
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Pablo Schreiber, Noah Cottrell, McKenna Roberts, Roland Møller, Chin Han
Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Story: A safety assessor must save his family from the tallest skyscraper in Hong Kong when it’s overthrown by thugs.
Final Score: D