I don’t watch a ton of T.V., mostly because I am constantly watching movies, both new releases and repeat viewings. But when I do watch T.V., a lot of what I watch is on the Food Network. I love watching the cooking competition shows. I don’t know why or how, since I don’t cook very well, but they’re just wildly entertaining to me. On most of these cooking shows, the main objective for our chefs is to highlight a particular ingredient, which can vary from anything from a fish to a fruit or vegetable. The chefs that lose these competitions lose because they try to dress their food up too much. They’ll add too many ingredients and do too many tricks that take away from the main ingredient.
Skyscraper is the product of a losing chef, that chef being writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber. Sure, there are some cool scenes and elements in the film, much like most of the dishes served on these shows look good and I assume taste good. But Thurber forgets the kind of movie he is making and overstuffs it with a lot of unnecessary pieces that take away from what this kind of film is.
After a hostage situation gone wrong, Will Sawyer (Dwayne Johnson) goes from an intense life as a Hostage Rescue Team leader to an amputee who assesses security for skyscrapers. Sawyer, along with his family, are sent to Hong Kong to check out the world’s tallest building ever, The Pearl, and upon inspection, deems it safe for operation. When a group of terrorists hack into the building and attempt to set it on fire, they frame Sawyer for the job, forcing him to try and clear his name all while trying to save his family from the burning building.
The trailers and hype around Skyscraper going in was that it was an action-thriller with Dwayne Johnson and a burning building. That’s all the movie needed to be. Nothing more, nothing less, just Johnson doing some crazy stunts on the gigantic building. This should have been a simple, epic, ridiculous disaster movie, reminiscent of films made in the 70’s and the 80’s.
Thurber didn’t realize the simplicity in this movie. The movie focuses mostly on the terrorist plot and not nearly enough on the building action. What the terrorist plot does is just add too much unnecessary nonsense to the film and take away from what really matters. I don’t care about what the terrorists want and I don’t care about the people involved. All I care about is Sawyer, his family, and the burning building and how they survive this situation and this dumb terrorist storyline takes all that away.
This is even more infuriating because all the stuff with Sawyer and his family is great and the building stunts, when done correctly, are a lot of fun. Johnson is his usual buff, charismatic self, though him playing an amputee forces him to do a lot of upper body lifting, so much so that the movie could have been called Dwayne Johnson’s Arm Day and it would have fit. Neve Campbell stars as his wife and she is just wonderful. I don’t know where Campbell has been since Scream 4 seven years ago, but she needs to be in more movies. The family dynamic is great and you’re generally worried about them throughout the movie. The rest of the performances in the movie are thankless roles from characters who do not matter.
Thurber also doesn’t understand the true scale of Skyscraper either. There are a couple cool scenes of Swanson scaling the building, but not nearly enough for this kind of movie. This is a movie that should have given me heart palpitations and caused vertigo. But instead, Thurber only teases the insanity of this movie instead of actually throwing us into it.
Skyscraper features some of the greatest product placement in cinematic history. The importance, and use, of duct tape throughout the film is a masterstroke in product placement and shows just how you can use duct tape for just about anything, from a bandage to hang grips when scaling the wall.
Skyscraper should have listened to the old adage of less is more. This is a movie that needed to be simpler. A movie that needed to focus simply on the burning building and core family trapped inside gets bogged down by useless characters and a dumb side-plot that doesn’t matter at all. Johnson tries his best here, but even he can’t save Skyscraper from falling.
Did you see Skyscraper? What did you think? Comment below or hit me up on Twitter and Instagram, @kevflix, or on Facebook by searching Kevflix.