In writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber’s Skyscraper, Dwayne Johnson (working with Thurber for a second time after Central Intelligence) goes to heightened lengths to save his family from a scorching skyscraper – all the while facing off against a group of organised criminals.
Johnson plays amputee Will Sawyer, a retired FBI hostage retrieval specialist whom, after a failed mission has spent the last ten years assessing the safety and security of buildings and structures. Through his friend and former FBI colleague, Ben (Pablo Schreiber), Will is invited to assess the safety and security of Zhao Long Ji’s (Chin Han) skyscraper, The Pearl – an architectural masterpiece. Will’s wife, Sarah (Neve Campbell), and twins Georgia (McKenna Roberts) and Henry (Noah Cottrell), have also been invited to experience the residential suites before they are opened to the public.
Unbeknownst to Will, Zhao is the target of Kores Botha (Rolland Moller), who will do anything to retrieve a mysterious object from Zhao. Noah Taylor makes an appearance as Mr. Pierce, a snivelling and ruthless insurance agent.
Johnson does well as Sawyer, after all, he’s had enough practice to nail this role without even trying. Just throw in a fight scene here, a stunt there and his work is done. He really can do no wrong with these types of roles. Neve Campbell was a stand out for me. She kicks ass, and would have made a great lead. It would have brought an unexpected dynamic to the film and a tough female lead is always great to see.
Roland Møller is also great as the villainous Kores. He is tough, scary and a great match for Johnson. Bit part actor Matt O’Leary is also worth a mention as a genius tech hacker (as per IMDb, his characters name is ‘Skinny Hacker’) – but not in a good way. O’Leary puts on some weird accent, in turn sounding completely ridiculous. Noah Taylor is putrid as Mr. Pierce, (think Bradley Whitfords evil CEO wannabe from Billy Madison, but worse and more serious), so much so that [spoiler alert] his demise brings a lot of satisfaction.
One thing I really enjoyed about the plot was why the villains were there in the first place. I was assuming that Zhao would turn out to somehow be some devious criminal, but I was wrong. He is just a businessman forced into an unfortunate situation. In that way, Zhao is similar to Will Sawyer, although Sawyer seems to have a lot of bad luck as well as being the victim of some extreme coincidences.
Another part of the film that made me think, whether it was intentional or not was the use of camera phones by the crowd surrounding the burning building. These devices are now entrenched in our society so much that recently in India, a crowd of people preferred to take video and selfies of three boys who had been hit by a school bus, rather than offer them assistance. All three died in pain while a crowd snapped up whatever vision they could.
Thurber himself has directed the film well, it has some great stunts and fight scenes. Most impressively though, I learned on extremely valuable lesson: Never run out of duct tape.
Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Pablo Schreiber
Writer: Rawson Marshall Thurber