Skyscraper knows that its concept is pretty darn impractical and plays it as big and overdramatic as it can. It goes for the swooping cinematography and punchy orchestral moments to heighten it.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way first, it’s premise is about a man named Will Sawyer (Dwayne Johnson) inside a super high tech building, mercenaries invade said building, with his loved ones inside, forcing him to take down one bad guy at a time and navigate the building inside and out. Yes, it is like Die Hard. Though only in premise, the action set-pieces and other moments of the movie are different. Die Hard is the gritty grounded version of this scenario while Skyscraper is the bonkers, living cartoon.
But time for some more detail. Our first shot is looking up to the sky and seeing a crescent moon, we then move down to a house and then pull back to see it is surrounded by police cars, there is a hostage situation inside. They decide to send in the special forces, they surround the house, bust in and surround the husband that is about to murder his family, but he is holding his son! The leader Will Sawyer talks him down but he has a bomb strapped to him and detonates it. This kills the family and severely injures Will, only really causing the loss of half his left leg. The nurse that treats him is a woman named Sarah (Neve Campbell).
Ten years later Will and Sarah are married and have two children, they are now in Hong Kong for Will’s possible new job of being head of security for The Pearl. The tallest skyscraper ever built. It is a modern, vertical city that will become one of the great tourist attractions. If only the boss didnt make enemies who are now setting the building on fire and storing it with machine guns.
Being that this is Dwayne Johnson and in the opening, he survived taking a bomb just about to the face we don’t really feel to jeopardy in the situation. We know he’ll survive the movie and isn’t going to lose super bad. So this is a movie with only the illusion of stakes. All movies have the illusion of stakes but you understand my meaning.
Not much of the action is about gunfights less fighting and shootouts more like retrieving. Something needs to be turned off/on or there’s a race to get someplace. Dwayne Johnson is a big muscular man and he has punched out plenty of bad guys in his career and will probably go on to punch more. But for here, it is more about setting up the situation and navigating through it. I like this, it shows an action hero be more strategic and resourceful.
The lead is charismatic, he represents an amputee which is very uncommon so that deserves credit, the script implants things and pays them off later and there’s an appropriate amount of self-awareness to this crazed situation. But this is not a good movie, it’s just too dumb at times and there are not enough refreshing bits in between for an honest recommendation. But it could have been so much worse and less memorable so kudos for that!