REVIEW: ‘Skyscraper’ is a generic action picture with little to offer

A man with law enforcement experience has to save his family member(s) in a skyscraper from a group of highly trained individuals looking to steal something from the building.

Yep, you’re thinking of the right movie, “Skyscraper” from 2018.

OK, yes, this film is quite similar to the classic action film “Die Hard.” Unfortunately, though, this film lacks quite a bit of the charm as that 1988 picture.

The film follows Will (Dwayne Johnson), a security assessor who had to leave his work with the FBI after losing his leg in an explosion. Will’s latest job involves him assessing the security function of the Pearl, the tallest, and supposedly safest, building in the world, located in Hong Kong. Because of his long-term work on the skyscraper Will, and his family, have been living in the building for a while.

At the movie’s start, everything seems fine and Will reports that the security in the structure is quite good. However, he quickly learns that not only was he betrayed by a good friend, but the tower he’s worked on is under siege by a highly trained force that has set the building on fire.

This formula is nothing really new, from “Air Force One” to this latest feature, they all seem to follow a common thread: an individual has to fight off a group of baddies in a confined space and in the process save his family in unique ways since he has almost no resources. “Skyscraper” follows that and is quite predictable. As a result, the movie needed to rely on its action set pieces and the characters to make up for the rather straightforward story.

Those two factors, though, are sorely lacking in any style or personality. As one expects, much of the action is based on heights, with the main character Will holding on for dear life in some cases. While this creates some suspense in the moment, as an audience wants the character to succeed, it’s nothing that lasts.

Even with the factor of Will being an amputee, the action and sequences of peril featured comes across as forgettable. There are very few memorable shots and the color and lighting offer nothing to enhance the mood. A few weeks ago I reviewed “Hotel Artemis,” and even though that picture had its issues, I could at least say it had some style and interesting design work. “Skyscraper,” meanwhile, just feels too generic.

Plus, when it came to the action, this movie really could have used an R-rating. This is most noticeable in the movie’s finale, which is especially underwhelming.

As for the acting, let’s start with Johnson. The guy obviously has a lot of charisma and it often helps carry many of the movies he stars in. From “San Andreas” to his involvement in the “Fast and the Furious” franchise, Dwayne Johnson’s characteristics and his charm are a benefit, especially in action oriented movies. While that is true certainly true here, though, Johnson wasn’t exactly helped by the script.

“Skyscraper” desperately needed its lead character to have some good one-liners, some fun phrases, and a few moments of good banter. One of the best parts of “Die Hard,” and other movies like it, such as “Air Force One” and “Olympus Has Fallen” have all benefited from their main characters having some good one-liners. In movies where action is the main focus, it can really help to give the main characters more personality. Again, this movie was lacking that.

The supporting cast is just OK. While Neve Campbell is strong as Will’s wife Sarah, Byron Mann is far too straightforward as a typical police chief and Roland Moller plays a completely generic villain.

Johnson and Campbell offer enough charisma and the moments where the main characters are fighting for their lives or facing the perils of the crumbling structure offer some excitement. However “Skyscraper” as a whole never becomes anything more. The action and survival isn’t well stylized, the villains are weak and there’s no memorable dialogue. 2 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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