By Liz Lopez

Rating: B-/C+

As I spoke to a friend recently, I mentioned the upcoming film “Skyscraper” staring Dwayne Johnson and her first reaction was a comparison to the 1974 film “The Towering Inferno,” as well as asking if it is a remake. I find this question to be expected, as many “baby boomers” saw this film starring Steve McQueen, Paul Newman and many other stars, but writer-director Rawson Marshall Thurber (“Central Intelligence,” “We’re the Millers”) has created a slightly different story also set in a very tall building with many technological upgrades over the last few decades. Don’t expect “Die Hard” or similar films since then that are set in or around high-rise buildings, but there is plenty of action and stunts. If a film fan selects this film for this reason, then they will be satisfied with the story no matter how implausible and over-the-top some of the sequences are. For viewers who are looking for a more solid story, well be aware that there is a bit of a stretch as to how Johnson’s character defies the laws of gravity in multiple scenes. The credibility in Thurber’s script is strained to the max, so this film is one to watch as a good escape from the summer heat and watching this super Dad jump into action for his family.  

Dwayne Johnson’s character, Will Sawyer, is a security/safety consultant with a prosthetic leg after an injury as an FBI agent working on a hostage rescue. Sawyer is referred by his friend Ben (Pablo Schreiber) for a job in Hong Kong and is subsequently hired by the developer Zhao Long Ji (Chin Han). Sawyer is to provide security and oversee safety of the building named the “Pearl” that is much, much taller than the Empire State Building. Sawyer has his family with him during this introduction at the Pearl, Sarah (Neve Campbell), his combat-surgeon wife, daughter Georgia (McKenna Roberts), and son Henry (Noah Cottrell).

Since towers have been used for so long as the setting for a disaster, Thurber’s script has this structure fall to sabotage by international mercenaries led by Kores Botha (Roland Møller) and an assassin, Xia (Hannah Quinlivan, “The Shanghai Job”), who are after an item in the hands of Sawyer’s boss, the entrepreneur Zhao Long Ji. The action kicks in when Sawyer leaves to the off-site security center, and discovers his friend Ben is not to be trusted, as well as his family is caught in the midst of a raging fire.

The performances are good and the relationship created between Johnson and Campbell’s characters comes across as credible. Campbell is excellent in her action and stunt sequences, as well as a caring mama. All the actors who perform as thugs are great, causing audience anticipation as to how Sawyer is about to beat the life out of them.

“Skyscraper” has great cinematography by Robert Elswit (Oscar winner for “There Will Be Blood”) on shots including within the Pearl’s floors and other effects where Sawyer is either leaping or climbing. Oh, and he also captures great shots of Johnson’s muscles and great smile too!

The 102 minute film has a PG-13 rating by the MPAA.

Source: Universal Studios

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