Will Sawyer (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) was a decorated U.S. war veteran who worked on the FBI's most tactical hostage and rescue team before one incident on the job changed his life, for better and worse. While he "put his sword down" and lost his left leg, Sawyer met the love of his life (Neve Campbell) in the hospital, started a family, and rebooted his life with a private security company.
13 years later, Sawyer finds himself back in hero mode due to some nasty bad guys. Welcome to Skyscraper, a guilty pleasure summer film with no complex agenda or need other than to entertain you for two hours. They've been making these movies for decades.
On July 20, 1988, Bruce Willis played a cop who got himself into a tough spot when he visited his ex-wife atop a high-rise building in Los Angeles. The movie was called Die Hard and would go on to break cinema's idea of the action-adventure story wide open. One hero against a group of bad guys.
Nearly 30 years later, Johnson and writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber are paying homage to the action thriller while adding their own aplomb and supersizing the hero with Skyscraper.
Here's a movie that will take your mind off adulting while making you laugh and jump in your seat periodically over two hours of action-packed suspenseful cinema. Think of yourself as Sawyer hanging from a rope attached to a beam. If you think about reality, you will fall. If you wonder if that made sense or could plausibly happen, you'll fall. If you judge the plot on the merit of higher end cinema like Mission Impossible: Fallout, you'll fall. Just sit back and enjoy the mayhem, because it's ludicrous, wildly over the top, and 100% fun.
Sawyer finds a potential huge client in Zhao Long Ji (Chin Han), the mind behind the tallest building in the world, Tokyo's The Pearl. Sawyer is brought in to handle the security of the elaborate building that runs 220 floors up in the air, but from the minute he is brought in, something just feels off. Why was his small company brought in for such a huge job? Why is his best friend and former partner acting all weird? The double-crosses and twists fire up early in this movie, but don't get twisted, this is a straight-forward action lover's dream.
Before long, Sawyer's family is in danger and there's a team of terrorists led by Botha (Land of Mine's breakout talent, Roland Moller) taking over the building and burning it to the ground, leaving one man to stop the madness: Will. A one-legged man armed with duct tape, a tireless will, and a set of skills that bad guys particularly despise.
Here's the thing. This movie doesn't work without Johnson. He literally powers the engine of Skyscraper, making it the true experience that it is. The man can make any outlandish action hero situation intriguing and has charisma to spare. When Will has to climb a tall unsafe piece of unfinished construction scaffolding, you believe it, because it's the Rock doing it. Just like Arnold, Sly, and Bruce back in the day, he's the action hero we need on screen this summer who can also make us laugh a little. A simple stare from Johnson late in the film takes the place of a page of dialogue. That's true action hero bravado there.
There are tons of small tributes to Die Hard, so believe me when I tell you the comparisons are real. Remember when John McClane said this was a bad idea? Well, before he climbs out of a window of the building to crawl around the side without falling, Sawyer plainly states, "this is stupid." Remember when McClane used duct tape to save the day? Well, Sawyer's best friend in the movie is duct tape. "If you can't fix it with duct tape, you aren't using ENOUGH duct tape," is his mantra. This is a guy going up against 10-15 baddies with a prosthetic left leg, a plot device that plays a healthy part in his rescue attempt without growing old.
Right when the villains knock him down, Sawyer gets back up and seems to get more angry. Just remember, this doesn't work if you don't believe in the bond with his family. The film doesn't waste time in setting up the feel-good connection between Will and Sarah, and their kids, Georgia (McKenna Roberts) and Henry (Noah Cottrell). You fall in love with this family real quick, and that makes the push for Will to save them that much stronger.
May I say it's nice to see Campbell on the big screen again, and she handles several action sequences very well. She has good chemistry with Johnson to push the slower moving scenes. Sarah Sawyer isn't a damsel in distress like some recent heroines in summer movies; she will protect her kids at all costs. The biggest surprise of Skyscraper is Campbell's part and her taking advantage of it.
Thurber and Johnson have worked before on Central Intelligence, but this film far exceeds that collaboration, and it also shows the precision the filmmaker has with staging elaborate and entertaining action sequences. This a good looking flick that moves quick.
Look, I had a long day before I saw this movie. I needed a break from the noise of life and an easy escape into the dark virtues of a movie theater. I wanted a throwback to the old action films that I grew up watching and still adore. Something light yet potent and visually stunning. Skyscraper was just that.
This is a cinematic double cheeseburger. A film that is easy on the eyes, sensibilities, and it will get you cheering for the family man who knows how to fight and survive. Throughout the film, civilians watch Sawyer's heroics from the ground on big screen televisions that kids would watch a superhero in a cartoon.
One may call this movie a live action cartoon, and that's fine, because it's very silly and fun. It's a highly entertaining cartoon, powered by The Rock. Johnson is having a great year, with Rampage, HBO's Ballers, and now Skyscraper. There's also the recent casting news for his Fast and Furious spinoff film with Jason Statham. He is everywhere, and that's a good thing. Hollywood needs more convincing and charming action heroes.
Go buy a ticket, turn off the worries of the world, and enjoy Skyscraper.