Rawson Marshall Thurber’s Skyscraper is a crackling action film which evokes imagery reminiscent of the more infamous blockbusters while still blazing its own trail.
Dwayne Johnson’s performance stirred memories of John McClane (Bruce Willis) crawling through air conditioning ducts in Die Hard, the unmatched aggression of Lietunant Marion Cobra (Sylvester Stallone) in Cobra, and the wit of detective John Kimble (Arnold Schwarzenegger) from Kindergarten Cop. What was so appealing about these heroes from the 80’s and 90’s was their humanity. Stallone, Willis, and Schwarzenegger are talents which defined a generation obsessed with the action genre. However, as time went on, their films became slightly stagnant. Johnson’s performance in Skyscraper resuscitates the genre solidifying his standing as this generations greatest action star.
Thurber’s narrative weaves in slight homages to a number of the greatest action films ever. The sequences taking place in Kowloon Plaza and inside “The Pearl” were certainly reminiscent of any number of moments fromThe Towering Inferno or Die Hard. Thurber’s staging of a smoke-filled fight sequence seemed right out of John Woo’s bag of tricks. Even the fight sequence involving those reflective screens was reminiscent of Enter The Dragon. None of these moments seemingly overtook the film and just seemed part of the “reality” this storyline exists in.
The film focuses on Will Sawyer (Johnson) who is a former FBI agent and now living life as a security consultant with prosthetic legs. Sawyer has been recently hired and flown (along with his family) to Hong Kong so he can evaluate the security measures for the tallest building in the world, “The Pearl.” Just as he is about to wrap his inspection of the recently constructed living quarters, terrorists infiltrate the building and set it on fire. Guess where Sawyer’s wife and two kids are? Yep, right where all the action is starting to unfold! Sarah (Neve Campbell) and their two children Henry (Noah Cottrell) and Georgia (Mckenna Roberts) quickly dash to try and escape the impending danger.
Fans will appreciate the brisk pace of the film and how nothing in the narrative is extraneous. Thurber also makes a concerted effort to showcase Sarah’s (Campbell) resourcefulness. Will Sawyer’s wife is far from a damsel in distress. She’s a highly intelligent former Naval surgeon whose heroic deeds are on par with her duct tape loving husband. It indeed was refreshing to see her kicking some bad guy butt as well. Every action sequence in Skyscraper has a clear objective of saving their family by any means necessary.
The sensationalized tone of Skyscraper matches the jaw-dropping action sequences which defy rational thought. Some might see this as a reason to criticize the film’s lack of realism which would be ludicrous. Did any of you question Die Hard when McClane was able to leap off of an exploding roof (still tied to something) and survive? Thurber’s goal from the beginning was to create a heart-pumping thrilling tale which may fray nerves but ultimately is highly entertaining. Who wouldn’t want that type of escapism?
Overall, Skyscraper is chock full of cheesy one-liners and logic-defying yet exhilarating action sequences weaved into an entertaining narrative. Don’t over think it! The film is worth your time and would fun to see with a group of friends. So get some Popcorn, maybe a large drink, and of course don’t forget the duct tape.