It’s hard not to watch this movie and think of another, better movie.
Die Hard, The Towering Inferno, Mission Impossible IV – take your pick; everything here has been done before and done better. Except there’s Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Now a reliable genre unto himself, he and he alone makes this film stand shoulders above what it could have been had practically anyone else been cast.
Arguably the most bankable star in the world headlines as a security consultant for the newly-tallest building in the world, which we are pointedly reminded, via diagram, is about three times the height of the Empire State Building. Returning to the yet-occupied tower where his wife (Neve Campbell in a largely one-note role) and kids are spending the day, muscle for hire start setting floors aflame. Lead by Hans I mean an assuredly European-sounding bad guy (Roland Moller of Land of Mine fame), something untoward is also going on with the building’s bank-roller; Chin Han playing almost the exact same, impossibly placid Hong Kong-based CEO that he did in The Dark Knight.
Moller, a hugely talented actor who is clearly trying to make the jump into big Hollywood fare following his breakout success and roles in the likes of The Commuter is evidently having a lot of fun but deserves better material than this, as does his co-star Kevin Rankin of Breaking Bad fame who is saddled with just a few lines. Australia’s own Noah Taylor cops one of Skyscraper’s most nonsensical roles, among many.
The obvious similarities to Die Hard aside, duct tape features very prominently and in a manner almost parodying Tom Cruise’s atmospheric jaunt in Ghost Protocol. Reaching it’s heights (figuratively and literally) in an enclosed hall with plentiful mirrors foretelling of course a ridiculous action sequence, here too Skyscraper borrows from Enter the Dragon and John Wick 2 which so better adapted this concept as recently as last year. As if this wasn’t enough, The Rock’s latest borrows an exchange and similarly concluding note from one of his own flicks only a few years past.
Where Skyscraper is original however is in it’s characterisation of Johnson’s Army veteran super-ripped everyman who in this case has a prosthetic limb, sustained in an incident detailed early on that, it must be said, as depicted throughout is reminiscent of that recurrent in Last Action Hero, a movie that was avowedly parodying flicks just like this one. Like Schwarzenegger, Johnson can nonetheless more than carry a film and it his presence which makes this enjoyable in spite of much else.
The much scoffed-at sequence where Johnson somehow leaps from a crane towards a building in his capable hands stands far and above as one of its best. Too finding novel implications and uses for the oft-detached lower leg though thankfully not overstating it’s presence, one early hand-to-hand fight as Johnson is forced to manoeuvre about a room on one leg is one of the film’s highlights as our hero takes on a bad guy who of course has those facial scars bad guys reliably have.
Trying to recreate it’s most blatant and illogical let’s call it homage to Die Hard in the final scene, you may get the feeling that you’ve seen Skyscraper before and you have, but you’ve never seen it with The Rock.
Skyscraper is in cinemas from July 12