After battling giant monsters earlier this year in Rampage, The Rock faces slightly less fantastical odds in the hybrid disaster/action movie Skyscraper, which combines The Towering Inferno and Die Hard into a fine but not at all original summer blockbuster.
Dwayne Johnson plays Will Sawyer, a former Marine/FBI Agent/Hostage Rescue team member who loses his leg in a horrific hostage situation gone wrong. 10 years later, he’s working as a security consultant, married to Sarah (Neve Campbell), the Navy surgeon who saved his life, and has two kids, Henry (Noah Cottrell) and Georgia (McKenna Roberts). The entire family is in Hong Kong as Will is assessing the security of The Pearl, the new largest building on Earth and a high tech marvel built by Chinese tech mogul Zhao Long Ji (Chin Han). Through various setups, Will is framed for starting a fire in The Pearl while the real threat, a criminal crew led by the ruthless Kores Botha (Roland Moller) are trying to acquire something held by Zhao inside his private penthouse at The Pearl, with the fire as a distraction/motivator. Everything in Skyscaper is extremely telegraphed from who the “inside man” is to a “Chekhov’s Gun” equivalent of a room in The Pearl that is only shown early in the movie because it is clearly going to be the location of the climax. There are also a ton of things that make absolutely no logical sense and are only there to send The Rock into some new set piece, like a vital computer station being housed outside the building inside it’s massive wind turbines. It’s a testament to The Rock though that, in the moment, you don’t think about the inconsistencies as he gives 100% as always and sells the physical feats that Will has to accomplish and most of the set pieces have a great sense of height and the difficulty involved.
The movie seems to lean slightly more toward the disaster side of it’s inspirations than the Die Hard side and it definitely doesn’t live up the greatness of that now 30 year old classic or even some of it’s better copycats like Under Siege or Sudden Death. Roland Moller is fine and threatening as Botha but he’s also extremely generic; he’s definitely no Hans or Simon Gruber, Strannix or Powers Boothe (no one remembers his character’s name from Sudden Death). Byron Mann seems like they are setting him up as the Al Powell equivalent; the person on the ground who believes Will is innocent and helps anyway he can but he actually works more with Neve Campbell and he and The Rock only exchange a single sentence between them for the whole movie. The Rock is great as always but he’s definitely not believable as a John McClane style everyman, even with a prosthetic leg (which, to their credit, they do use in quite a lot of clever ways) and he’s slightly more serious and dramatic than say, Rampage, but there’s still a few good quips and a great duct tape running joke. Neve Campbell is great as well and it’s refreshing that she gets to use some of the skills honed against multiple Ghostfaces to kick some ass alongside The Rock, it’s a slight next step above Holly McClane, who was tough but didn’t personally take on any of Hans’ men.
If you’re a fan of The Rock and his particular brand of action, than you’ll probably enjoy Skyscraper as it’s another solid entry into his catalog but it’s also extremely generic on both it’s disaster and Die Hard aspirations. Between this and Rampage, I would have to lean slightly more toward Rampage as far as 2018 Rock offerings, simply because it’s insane and ridiculous and knows it while Skyscraper is more self-serious.
I’m like the J. Jonah Jameson of Everything Action, writing and editing and constantly demanding pictures of Spider-Man.