Sep 3, 2018

[Movies] Skyscraper (2018) Review

There are many different movies that end up making it to the screen since one studio executive or another figures that a certain movie formula is bound to work. In this case we have a movie that relies on the relative star power of Dwayne Johnson as an action hero with a heart.

Skyscraper is an odd movie that got a lot of flack for it pre-release marketing depicting a physically impossible jump among other things. But hey, we only expect so much from movies like this - decent entertainment, good action, and maybe a few explosions. And in that regard this movie did pretty well in that department.

At the same time, this feels like yet another movie that is trying to appeal more to Chinese audiences. Sure, it's technically set in Hong Kong which still isn't quite as China as mainland China. But it did feel like a bit of an arbitrary decision to have this massive skyscraper there and thus the whole movie.

But such are the way of these things.

Synopsis: Skyscraper is an American action movie directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber. The screenplay was also written by Thurber and is his first non-comedic movie.

The Pearl in Hong Kong promises to be the tallest skyscraper in the world standing at over 1,100 meters and consisting of 225 stories. But given how it is taller than any other structure in the world, it's a bit of an insurance nightmare and thus its upper residential levels remain unoccupied as they work through the paperwork. And that's where Will Sawyer (Dwayne Johnson) comes in as he is a currently in the security business and has been working to get the Pearl's security fully up to speed.

Thus Will and his family have been flown into Hong Kong for the final assessment before the Pearl gets the green light. All of the admin controls for the Pearl's security systems have been tied to a particular tablet that has been entrusted to him as he completes the final setup. But there are forces determined to gain control over the Pearl's systems for reasons of their own. And all indications seem to point back to the Pearl's financier, entrepreneur Zhao Long Ji (Chin Han).

What I Liked: The opening description of the building is inevitably a description of the many challenges that Dwayne Johnson is going to face and in a weird way it's like the opening of a video game. And yes, almost every feature of the building later factors into how they take it all down and how our hero will get to the top to save the day. It is literally a movie named Skyscraper and so this is totally getting what was promised. It may be a little far-fetched, but the movie remains largely consistent with its own logic.

To make things even crazier, Dwayne Johnson's character is a former FBI team leader who lost his leg in a mission. And thus we have an amputee version of the Rock whose detachable foot is a major factor in the action, which was oddly fun. And who doesn't love an underdog, right?

What Could Have Been Better: That said, the movie's plot can feel a little contrived as so many things go in a very particular sequence in order for our "bad guys" to get what they want. They even have the ridiculously skilled martial arts girl (complete with annoying edgy haircut) who naturally defeats almost everyone she faces. But hey, it's just a movie right? We just have to accept a lot of ridiculousness in order to get to the fun action bits.

This also means that a lot of the characters are paper thin in terms of how they were presented or "developed", chief among them Will Sawyer's family. He is somehow married to the surgeon who saved his life and his kids are best identified as the girl and the boy who has asthma. The big bad goons are also largely generic and we don't really find out why they are doing what they're doing until the very end of the movie when everyone explains their role in things fully.

TL;DR: Skyscraper is definitely one of those movies where you need to turn off your brain in order to enjoy things fully. Even then it's a tough sell but at least it has some good fights and some ridiculously conceived obstacles and that's how it all works out really. And thus the movie gets a passable 2 ridiculous features of the Pearl that I doubt would make someone live over 200 stories above the ground out of a possible 5.


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