Skyscraper theatrical release poster

Movie Review: Skyscraper


Some dubbed the movie Skyscraper as  The Rock’s biggest action movie of this year even before its release. But then, I can only associate the word Skyscraper with the producing team’s ambition to make it a major blockbuster. Whether they make it to heaven or fall flat on the ground, well, we shall go into that.

The screenwriter decided that, before they introduce Will Sawyer to you, who is the character played by The Rock, they ought to tell you first how he lost one of his legs. So the film started with an operation he had years ago, which seemed like he made a mistake. Everything seems very American, be it the operation itself, the cabin in the woods, the chilly weather. Then the film cuts you off and take you to Hong Kong, where out of nowhere, this giant, tallest-building-in-the-world which has just been completed are continuously praised and admired by the world, as if this horrendous looking tall building is the only best thing humanity can ever achieve in 1 million years. If I knew the “Skyscraper” looks like that, I would have thought twice before paying for the ticket.

Major (design) elements of the building are there to make no sense and are there only for the sake of the direction of the plot: that gigantic turbine, the rising plates -thingy in the Sphere. As with everything else in the film, too. Don’t even get me started on the turn-off and turn-on shit. It is supposed to look like some random script during the beginning of the film, only to be revealed later on about how magnificently it is related to the final, life-saving scene of the film. Sky-scraping absurdity.

From the first third of the movie onwards, I prayed that The Rock will give some thrilling and satisfying action scenes, or I will head to the counter and demand my money back. Yeah, The Rock did shelf out some nice moves, but the cinematographer doesn’t seem willing to cooperate. If you ask me, I will bet with you that the cinematographer got his inspiration from playing 1st person shooting games from a very-laggy computer. At one scene, a Chinese facility worker just got choked by a muscular hand through a small hole blown up by an infiltrator, at the scene next, his whole damn team is already inside the building. The film just never bothered to spend that extra 10 seconds showing how the bad guys got in (or how any adult would ever go through that tiny hole). This artistic glitch (or warp) happens numerous times across the span of the movie, which often leaves me baffled during the fast paced scenes.

From the looks of it, I’m afraid (but sure) that the screenwriter is in the same camp as the cinematographer, too. Some  scenes in the film are set up to be glorious only in the eyes of the screenwriter. I mean, why the hell is everybody clapping over a suspected fugitive who successfully escaped into a building? Because the fugitive looks like Dwayne Johnson? I’m sure if the fugitive looks like Mickey Rourke, nobody would have ever cheered. And how the hell did Will Sawyer kept a partial bridge intact by standing on that same bridge, and pulling two ropes that are attached, again, on the same bridge?

Skyscraper iconic jump
Does it look like he jumped too early? Source: Universal

The plot places it’s very last bet on the mysterious item possessed by Zhao, the owner of the skyscraper, which, should (or fail to) get hold of the audience with its mystery until the final resolve. It somewhat worked for me to a certain extent, as I got wondering, what is so significant about this mysterious thing that got the baddies hijacking and burning down the world’s tallest building? Alas, Zhao explained the connection that the item has with the bad guys to Will Sawyer. At that moment, I thought, Chin Han must be having a tough time playing that scene, keeping his face straight the entire time while blurting out all these afterthought nonsense shoved into his script.

Thank God, part of the stuffs you see on the screen still look acceptable, like Will Sawyer’s shirt, which surprisingly, doesn’t look like it’s splashed with ketchup and black pepper. The weathering effect looks real, as with the prosthetic leg depiction. The iconic scene where Will Sawyer jumps off towards the skyscraper looks like more effort and thought has been put into that particular scene to polish its outcome. Besides that, overall CGI is mediocre, but doesn’t hint budget constraints in that aspect. The de-aging process for The Rock in the initial few scenes which supposedly took place 10 years ago, doesn’t look convincing, but I blame Marvel Studios for spoiling me with their near perfect de-aging of their characters in Ant Man and The Wasp. But still, nothing (or no one) can save Skyscraper from the disastrous plot, clueless script and time-warping screenplay.

Dwayne Johnson 2008 CineVegas Film Festival
This is The Rock, 10 years ago. In the movie? Not even close!
Source: Angela Weiss, Getty Images Entertainment

Addict Verdict (AV):

Compared to the most recent entries where The Rock helmed its cast list (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Rampage), Skyscraper is easily my least favorite, because it just lacks anything good that the previous 2 have: the established title, fun factor and painfully hilarious comedic routines of Jumanji, and the hypnotic CGI and nerve-racking scenes in Rampage. It tries to infuse the element of family into its action-thriller derived plot, but in the end, it misses out the charm of both.