Studio: Universal Studios (105 mins.)
Plot: On assignment in China, a former FBI Hostage Rescue Team leader who now assesses security for skyscrapers finds the tallest, safest building in the world suddenly ablaze.
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Chin Han, Pablo Schreiber
By Samantha Ofole-Prince
In “San Andreas,” he made a dangerous journey to rescue his daughter after a massive earthquake struck California. In “Rampage,” he rescued the residents of Chicago from a beastly attack and in his latest mission, Dwayne Johnson is rescuing his entire family from a towering inferno in Hong Kong.
Combine the first two flicks, change the location and up the stakes and the result is “Skyscraper.”
Another action-laced Hollywood flick filled with plenty of gunshots, carnage and chaos, Johnson plays Will Sawyer, a former FBI Hostage Rescue Team leader and U.S. war veteran, who now assesses security for skyscrapers. Due to an incident, 10 years earlier, we learn that Sawyer lost his left leg below the knee and now wears a prosthetic leg. He is also married to the naval surgeon, Sarah (Neve Campbell) who saved his life, and both are the devoted parents to eight-year-old twins (McKenna Roberts and Noah Cottrell). With the help of his former team member Ben (Pablo Schreiber), Sawyer has snagged a contract to assesses security for the world’s tallest skyscraper called ‘The Pearl,’ which has 225 stories and stands more than 3,500 feet high. It’s the brainchild of Chinese software developer Zhao Long Ji (Chin Han), who wants Sawyer to handle the structure’s safety and invites him and his family to occupy and enjoy the perks of the 98th floor while they harsh out a deal.
Fast forward a few scenes later, we learn Ji has enemies who plan to take down his tower and frame Sawyer for the deed. With his family trapped in the building as a fire rages on the 96th floor, Sawyer leaps into heroic mode, scaling the building, darting fires and enduring several nasty fisticuffs to save his loved ones and clear his name.
Roland Møller plays the lead villain Botha, a South African mercenary on a mission to ferret out Ji from his den in the sky and Hannah Quinlivan plays Xia, his lethal terminator.
Action, brawls and heroics aside, there is one thing that is pretty impressive about “Skyscraper,” which is that it’s a marvel of technology. Setting the story in the tallest building in the world very much represents the reality of what’s going on now with the advancement of technology. The idea of a building, which could rival the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the current world’s tallest building with 163 floors, it begs the question of what the highest possible height that a building can reach. Although in this film, it’s purely the brilliance of CGI, it certainly still makes you wonder just how feasible a place like the ‘The Perl’ could be. This skyscraper is a five-star hotel with three full-sized gyms, two 16-screen cinemas, a driving range, concert hall, six-story shopping mall, a Michelin three-star restaurant and more than 100 floors of luxury residential suites. It’s a building, which is a vertical city unto itself and it’s simply marvelous and reverting to watch as Sawyer gets a tour.
Johnson diligently plays his role as the devoted husband and doting dad complete with the adequate range of emotion and his inimitable mix of charm, muscle and passion and it’s exhausting and exhilarating watching him scale the skyscraper. You know he’s ultimately going to achieve his goal, but you will gasp as he narrowly misses a step and suffers bumps and bruises in the process.
The bottom-line of this decent disaster drama is? The tallest building in the world is on fire and this chap’s family is trapped above the fire line. He’s outside the building and has to figure out how to get into the building, rescue his family, figure out who the bad guys are, stop them, clear his name and get out — all in one day. And it’s an entertaining ride watching him do it.
Written and directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber, who directed Johnson in “Central Intelligence,” it’s “Die Hard” meets “The Towering Inferno” and although it’s not the kind of movie one should see if one requires such elements as realism, it’s certainly one you should seek out if you want to be enormously entertained.
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