This Skyscraper fails to soar

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 21 Jul 2018 12:07:46




By Farina Salim Quraishi,

It’s Dwayne Johnson to the rescue yet again… however there is little escaping the strong sense of déjà vu that stays on for the most part of Skyscraper. Despite all ‘Rock’ solid ingredients of a Dwayne Johnson movie - including a gold-hearted commoner, a disaster brewing, a family in peril, and the Rock rising to the occasion - thrown in and some more, Skyscraper fails rise above mediocrity and scores low on originality. A pastiche of several big-ticket actioners, including some of Dwayne Johnson’s runaway hits themselves, Skyscraper is as derivative as it can get employing every trope in the tried-and-tested theme to fire up a bombastic storm.

Skyscraper has Dwayne Johnson as Will Sawyer, a former FBI Hostage Rescue chief, working as a high-rise security consultant. Ten years ago, Will led his team on a rescue mission and lost his leg after the hostage situation went haywire. Fitted with a prosthetic leg, Will has embraced life and his disability wholeheartedly, all the while trying hard to overcome the emotional scars.

Will’s latest assignment takes him all the way to Hong Kong, where he is hired as security consultant for the tallest skyscraper in the world, The Pearl. With his family in tow - wife Sarah and two children, Will sets about assessing The Pearl, which is a safety hazard by all counts.

Even as the building owner Zhao Min Zhi and Will scramble around to plug the safety and security loopholes, an international terrorist organisation lead by Botha (Roland Moller) targets the building setting it’s 96th floor on fire. With the fire specifically targeted to destroy the building’s high-tech fire safety system, the high-rise is soon engulfed in flames, trapping Will’s family on the floors above. To make matters worse, Will is framed for the sabotage and arson with the Hong Kong Police hot on his heels.

Though an original story written by director Rawson Marshall Thurber, Skyscraper is a cross between Die Hard and The Towering Inferno, of course with more muscle and burning concrete. The soft homage to Bruce Willis’ Die Hard is obvious never mind if the stakes faced by John McClane in Nakatomi Plaza look minuscule in comparison to the odds Will has to face 3500 feet above the ground in The Pearl. Also, unmistakable is the stamp of other blockbusters with more than a few sequences being throwback to Welcome To The Jungle, San Andreas, Rampage among others.

In the movie’s standout sequence wherein Johnson prepares to climb the tower’s glass exterior, using tape wrapped around his hands and shoes (Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol anyone?!), he mutters, “This is stupid!”. Much like Will’s self-realisation, it won’t take long for audiences to realise how silly the movie really is with its shaky foundation. With only a functional story and nonsensical plot - centering around a memory drive - powering on the movie, the film runs out of juice even before the first half ends. Despite the short run-time of 109 minutes, it’s a struggle to sit through generic and bland action-fest as it chugs around in circles.

Despite the interesting premise, Skyscraper squanders a great deal of its potential following a meandering path. Oscillating its focus from Will’s family to Botha’s twisted plan to the ever-escalating odds; Skyscraper is not a smooth run, with only the recurrent portions of Will’s stunts bringing any real joy. Sequences of Will escaping a sure-death by a whisker as he hops, jumps, flies over insurmountable barriers on the strength of his brawn and sometimes his brains alone are awesome. Even the much-memed scene wherein Will leaps from a crane unto the burning building, aided mostly by rock-solid will (will power here!) is a fantastic visual treat and is sure to induce vertigo! However, given the fact that the subsequent sequences are more or less a rehash of the same robs the action sequences of their novelty and they become repetitive as the film goes on.

Skyscraper is Dwayne Johnson’s solo show all the way. The man with a million-watt-smile has the charm to bring alive the dullest of movies, he however fails to lift this one. Courtesy the poor characterisation, Skyscraper’s Will is hardly any different from San Andreas’ Ray or Davis Okoye from Rampage, lacking a distinct connect. Moreover, Will plays a hero unencumbered by his disability but it is hardly a factor in the film beyond the odd limp or two. Neve Campbell is a welcome presence as Sarah but aside from getting to kick a few butts, the talented actress has little else to do. Also there are no worthy nemesis in Skyscraper and the villians are toothless in the extreme.

Sufficiently entertaining but overwhelmingly indistinct, Skyscraper is just an amped-up action fest which only die-hard action fans and yes, Dwayne Johnson fan will appreciate.

The Hitavada Rating: OO