When you purchase a ticket for a Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson movie, you kind of know what to expect. His track record involves a lot of terrible movies, but the one saving grace is Johnson’s undeniable charisma. From San Andreas and Baywatch to Rampage, and everything before and (probably) after, The Rock stands out in a sea of mediocre films. He’s just a likable guy. I can compare most of his IMDB to Arnold Schwarzenegger. When you look at Schwarzenegger’s films without the nostalgia and 80’s and 90’s cheese, most of them are terribly written movies, but Arnold delivers his infinitely quotable one-liners and you almost forget how bad the movie is. Arnold is likable, and The Rock, in a lot of ways, is this generation’s Schwarzenegger. With that said, if you are excited to see Johnson’s newest starring flick, Skyscraper, curb your expectations. It’s the dumb movie you think it’ll be given the trailers and the premise, but the film takes itself way too seriously, and The Rock’s beloved personality comes off severely watered down and restrained.
“The Rock, in a lot of ways, is this generation’s Schwarzenegger…”
The director of Skyscraper is Rawson Marshall Thurber. Thurber’s directorial work includes DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story and We’re The Millers, two movies I happen to greatly enjoy. The guy is capable of doing comedy and action. He’s also worked with Dwayne Johnson before on Central Intelligence. Why is this movie so bland? The action set pieces are so preposterous and over-the-top, but it’s taken deadly seriously. This movie would have worked better as an action comedy or at the very least a throwback to the Schwarzenegger one-liner fests of yesteryear. If you’ve seen the trailers, you’ve know the plot; Dwayne Johnson plays Will Sawyer, an ex-military/hostage negotiator who has to rescue his family from bad guys in a tall building. It’s Die Hard without the personality, heart, and likable characters. Will Sawyer is an amputee character, but the things he does in the movie are so insanely ludicrous, his disability becomes an afterthought. His prosthetic leg is just a prop he uses to wedge open doors and club enemies, and it adds nothing noteworthy to the character. With the impossible action set pieces, it just baffles me that this film took itself so seriously. It was ripe with enough material to make it an action comedy.
“Everyone knows that people with facial disfiguration are always bad guys…”
Neve Campbell plays Sawyer’s wife, Sarah, and she’s an ex-military surgeon so she has a forced fight scene with Xia (played by Hannah Quinlivan), the head henchman who scowls and laughs maniacally. Again, another cliché’ that is so overdone; it’s weird that they played her so straight. The Dark Knight’s Chin Han shows up to remind us that he was once in a better movie. He plays the creator of the titular Skyscraper who has a secret that when revealed, is sure to make you yawn. Pablo Schreiber plays a character with facial scars, so you can guess how likely it is that he’s going to turn out to be a bad guy. Everyone knows that people with facial disfiguration are always bad guys, right? Just another silly cliché that most current films in the genre have tried to move past, but this one embraces to beyond appalling levels.
The Rock scales buildings, leaps over gaps that no human on earth could clear, and holds up collapsing bridges with inhumane brute strength, but there’s not enough personality for me to suggest this movie to even the most die-hard (pun very much intended) Dwayne Johnson fans. This movie is too dumb and over-the-top to be this boring and serious, and it’s too boring and serious to be the dumb action blockbuster the movie needed to be. As a longtime fan of The Rock myself, it pains me to say that you should spend your money on something else this summer.
Skyscraper (2018) Written and Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber. Starring Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Chin Han, Pablo Schreiber, Hannah Quinlivan, Noah Taylor, Roland Møller, McKenna Roberts, Byron Mann
5 out of 10