So, this is what we’ve come to is it? Is Hollywood really so starved of ideas that even original films just copy what’s come before them? Skyscraper follows that oddly familiar trend now of being a film that feels simultaneously nostalgic and of the time. The story to it isn’t worth mentioning really. Outside of having the heroic character being a physically disabled man, we’ve seen everything in here before. It’s the story of Die Hard with more than a sprinkling of Towering Inferno thrown in for good measure. That’s where most of the nostalgia comes from. The more of the time elements come from the casting of Dwayne Johnson and the film’s setting being in China.
To be fair to Skyscraper, it is a solidly made and entertaining blockbuster. The acting around the board was good. Johnson and Neve Campbell – who I haven’t seen since Scream 4, which I think is a shame – do stand out as the better actors in this film. They have very good chemistry with each other. It’s nothing special, but they do come off as a legitimate couple. We also have some cartoonish villains, although the more entertaining of which are hardly in the film – such as a Dutch hacker and an Asian feme-fatal assassin – mores the pity.
On top of that, director Rawson Marshall Thurber – who mostly specialises in comedies, such as the hilarious Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, Central Intelligence and We’re the Millers (the last one I don’t like, but it was a hit anyway) – does very well with his action too. Moments of genuine suspense are far and few between, but the action is well set-up. It’s well shot and choreographed. All the action builds on the last one, making things quickly move from silly to ridiculous as it goes on. There is genuine comedy here, although it is used sparingly throughout. All of this is what most people will be wanting to see. If you saw the trailer and thought that it looked fun, then that’s exactly what you will get from this.
But we do still have the issue of the film being absolutely nothing new. And I mean that completely. We have indeed seen absolutely every little point in this film somewhere else. The burning building where people have to beat the flames to reach the building’s top? Towering Inferno. Terrorists taking a building in order to steal something the building’s owner has? Die Hard. To top that we have some villains who look like henchmen from John Wick. There’s the colossal buildings from Dredd, numerous anime and Bladerunner to a lesser extent. We even have a hologram room like in Ender’s Game. Does anyone even remember that film?
While it is fun, nothing is explored or new. There’s a scene when Johnson has to find a switch to override the locks on a vault door and finds that the switch is hidden behind a fan, which was clearly set up to be for this scene. He say’s something along the lines of, of course it’s there. That is the perfect sum up of this film. Traitors are easy to spot and when we are introduced to the numerous rooms and wonders of the skyscraper, we can all assume that they will be the centre-piece of another action scene.
Skyscraper is a perfect example of blockbusters today. It’s well-made and fun, with a likable cast and some note-worthy moments. It’s also unoriginal, unchallenging, hollow and just plain forgettable. I’m already forgetting about it. It’s something that will be fun to watch on a smaller screen – it’s the kind of film I’d put on when I’m ironing or eating a meal at home. That’s the kind of film that keeps on coming onto our screens. I can’t say how long that will continue for, but if Skyscraper is the film that sums it up, then I can safely say that we’ve all watched a lot worse.
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