Skyscraper: An Entertaining take on the ‘Die Hard’ Formula
Movie Review by Anirudh Madhav (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
It is hard not to mention Skyscraper’s semblance to a toned-down version of Die Hard (1988) fused with bits and pieces of Towering Inferno (1974). The movie features the hunky Dwayne Johnson, projected as a former-FBI agent with a never-give-up attitude and plenty of CGI effects to transform the bland storyline into an edge-of-the-seat action movie.
The opening sequence shows Will Sawyer (Dwayne Johnson), losing his leg in an FBI operation, where he meets his wife and navy surgeon Sarah Sawyer (Neve Campbell). Fast forward to the present day, Will Sawyer is a security assessor and lives at the Pearl, the World’s largest structure located in Hong Kong. Sarah and her children are stuck on a floor when a fire breaks out, set up by crime syndicates. The rest of the storyline leads us to how Will scales up the building to save his family despite adversaries in the building.
Right from the depiction of the Pearl building, its inner systems and the massive pearl at the tip of the building, the CGI effects are impressive. A scene where the builder of the Pearl Zhao Long Ji (Chin Han) showcases the inner workings of the sphere and a series of mirrors rise from the floor and the outside world is projected on the screen is spectacular and sphere plays an important role in the film’s climax.
Dwayne Johnson excels in the action sequences, right from the breathtaking jump from the crane to the jump between the massive wind turbines within the skyscraper. The desperation of saving his family from the vertically crawling inferno and the challenge of scaling and rescuing his kids is portrayed well by Will’s character. Screenwriter Rawson has skimped on adding a depth to the villains and the thugs in the movie. An Asian woman pops out of nowhere and goes on a killing spree, while the main villain Kores Botha (Rolland Moller) sets out on a mission to recover a hard drive from Zhao. The part where Kores and his thugs sets fire to a floor as a part of their revenge plan made no sense. The script tends to focus less on the plot of the crime syndicate and in turn there is a paper-thin connection, where Will crosses paths with Kores.
Despite featuring assassin-type Hollywood villians, the movie’s motive to impress the International audience, especially the Chinese audience is evident. For instance, the Xia (Hannah Quinlivan) who goes on a killing spree, the dragon adornments and the visual elements, all lend to the authenticity of the Hong Kong locale.
Skyscraper is not a completely mindless action thriller. It does have some edge-of-the-seat moments and the screen presence of ‘The Rock’ Dwayne Johnson. Robert Elswit’s cinematography is commendable in the scene where a beautiful waterfall and rainforest is shown within the Pearl. Skyscraper passes of as an entertaining watch with action packed moments, complete with flammable explosions and cliched villains.