‘Skyscraper’ reaches for new heights and falls short
“I think there will be a 200-story skyscraper someday. However, it will require a developer who will not think in conventional terms and for whom economic restraints won’t apply” – Helmut Kahn, noted architect
“A dead man begs you to remember; a warrior’s ultimate act is to lay down his sword” – Jet Li as “Nameless” in the 2002 film Hero
Few warriors are more deserving of making the choice to lay down their sword than “Will Sawyer” (Dwayne Johnson – San Andreas) in Skyscraper, from writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber (Central Intelligence, DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story). He served in the Marines, spent years as an FBI Agent and then a decade on the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team (HRT). FYI, he HRT is an elite unit that trains and occasionally operates with the Army’s Delta Force. Then came an operation where Sawyer was badly injured, requiring the amputation of his leg below the knee.
Fast forward to the present and Will has a cutting edge prosthetic leg, a wife “Sarah Sawyer” (Neve Campbell – “Closing the Ring). She’s a Navy trauma surgeon who did three tours in Afghanistan. They have two kids, “Georgia” (McKenna Roberts) and “Henry” (Noah Cottrell) and it should be noted that Henry suffers from asthma. They are in Hong Kong with their parents because Will is there working. He’s been hired to assess the security and protection systems of a newly constructed skyscraper. It is 3,500 feet tall and a true wonder in many ways. It’s builder and penthouse occupant, “Zhao Long Ji” (Chin Han – Independence Day: Resurgence) hired Will to provide the final analysis/appraisal of the building that will convince the insurance company to underwrite occupancy of the building’s upper half. There is an insurance company representative present when Will gives his report. Will is given a tablet that is biometrically coded to his face, in order to do the last portion of the appraisal; visit the off-site control center where the building’s security and protection systems are managed from.
What he doesn’t know is that when his friend “Ben” (Pablo Schreiber – 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi) had an ulterior motive in referring Will for this job. Ben, also injured on that HRT operation gone wrong, is working for “Kores Botha” (Roland Møller – Atomic Blonde). Botha desperately needs to get something somewhere in Zhao’s penthouse. Botha has put together a plan to destroy Zhao’s creation while getting what he wants and needs. Part of that plan is for Ben to get Will into place so that the tablet can be stolen from him by thugs led by “Xia” (Hannah Quinlivan) who is one bad-ass woman. When that plan goes awry, a mortally wounded Ben confesses. The other part of the plan also went wrong and rather than being elsewhere, Sarah and the kids are in their apartment in the skyscraper; and at risk. This sends Will into rampage mode, doing anything and everything to get back into the building to save his family.
Skyscraper doesn’t raise the bar set before it by Die Hard. On one level this is little more than a mashup of that film, Towering Inferno and Men of Honor. The excellent acting from Dwayne Johnson and Neve Campbell makes this movie better than it should have been. The action is done well and the two have excellent chemistry. The final result is solid action, worthy of a big buttered bucket of popcorn on your way into the auditorium.
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