“Skyscraper” is Solidly Escapist,
But Goes Nowhere Further
By Macky Macarayan
Dwayne Johnson has become Hollywood’s go-to guy for loud, big-budget action flicks, having starred in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Rampage earlier this year. Pitting him again in another heroic situation seems likely, hence Skyscraper, a two hour-bombardment of thrills and explosions. If you’ve seen the film (or even just the trailer), you’d quickly recognize where the filmmakers borrowed the idea for the plot (hint: Bruce Willis and Professor Snape).
“Die Hard” Overload
Skyscraper didn’t just take the concept of an unlikely hero foiling a group of terrorists as they hold a high-rise hostage, it borrowed almost everything, down to the duct tape that John McClane (Bruce Willis) used to hide his gun from Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman). You have the wife (Neve Campbell) in peril, a short-haired femme fatale (hello, Die Hard 3), the clueless cop (played here by Byron Mann), and the horde of spectators below who are glued to the events above. The ultimate letdown, however is that Skyscraper doesn’t have a villain memorable or likeable enough. For what it’s worth, we did enjoy Johnson’s newfound uses for duct tape.
Thrilling as hell
Despite the derivative plot, Skyscraper gets plus points for delivering on its promise, which is high-stakes, adrenaline-filled action. The film is tightly-paced, never allowing a moment of dullness. Two notable sequences involve Johnson jumping onto the titular skyscraper from a crane, and tiptoeing on the side of a building to access a computer encased inside whirling blades.
Dwayne Johnson is perfect for the role
The film mostly works because Johnson fits the role of a family man who will go to the extremes to save his wife and kids; it’s as if the role was written especially for him (it probably is). Also, when Johnson punches a bad guy onscreen, audiences can really feel that smack.
Did we tell you the protagonist only has one leg?
That’s right, folks. Johnson’s Will Sawyer has lost one of his legs in the line of duty, having been a former FBI operative. So fast forward to present day, he is a family man and a successful security expert that has a prosthetic leg for mobility. Hence, all that kicking and jumping and hanging from the side of a building, he does that with one leg (he kind of beats Bruce Willis on that one).
The skyscraper itself is a marvel
The real centerpiece of the film is the fictional towering skyscraper, situated in the middle of Hong Kong. The architecture is something to behold: steel and glass combine to make a robust and shiny attraction. The building’s controls and emergency systems are also state-of-the-art, and can be accessed remotely. On the topmost floor, there is a viewing deck that allows for a “heavenly” experience.
Neve Campbell resurgence!
Though she isn’t given much to do here, we are just excited to see Neve Campbell onscreen again. We missed her since she was dodging Ghostface in the Scream series and conjuring spells in The Craft. At least, she gets to kick some bad guys’ asses here. And we sure held on to our seats when she crossed a broken walkway by walking through a plank with her son piggybacked and a fire raging below.
Gracefully-choreographed fight scenes
There’s a fight scene early in the film that takes place in an apartment unit, which is one of the best fight scenes in the film. You can feel every punch, kick and shattered glass, as the camera moves kinetically, but without causing nausea. Robert Elswit, who also shot Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation captures every breathtaking detail in close quarters beatdown. In exterior scenes, particularly the skyscraper stunts, the shots are also equally breathtaking.
A comment on capitalism, perhaps?
One can take the argument that the skyscraper represents capitalism and excess, and to show it burning could mean shattering, or “burning” the proverbial house down. But when you take a look at the ending (oh no, avert your eyes if you haven’t seen the film yet), the owner said he is going to rebuild, so yeah capitalism is alive and well again. And to think that this film was made for capitalist intentions, perhaps the capitalism commentary is a bit of a stretch. Maybe the filmmakers just want to pit a hero in a burning building and ta-da, we have a summer blockbuster. Skyscraper is thrillingly diverting, but no more.
All other snaps are from this trailer.
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