When Die Hard revolutionized the action genre, a glorious slew of imitators copied the formula. I like to joke that Skyscraper is finally Die Hard in a building but Nakatomi Plaza was never on fire.
Skyscraper lights Die Hard on fire! Also, Nakatomi Plaza was 40 stories. Skyscraper has about six times as many floors and six times the action.
Will Sawyer (Dwayne Johnson) is evaluating the security of The Pearl, new tallest building in the world in Hong Kong. When bad guys set fire to it with his family inside, Will has to rescue his family and stop the bad guys.
What’s really great about the action in Skyscraper is that no sequence is about just one thing. Each sequence has three or four things Will has to do to survive.
Much has been made of his crane jump in the trailer and on the poster. The jump is actually the last thing in a sequence of climbing, hanging and swinging against a ticking clock of police.
The crane scene is going to be an all time action movie moment, but so will later scenes with Will helping his wife Sarah (Neve Campbell) save their child from fire, Will rapelling on the side of the building and the climax in the tower’s high tech sphere of 317 projection panels that could only have been created to have the finale of an action movie there.
Will probably does more rescuing than taking out bad guys Die Hard style, but it’s both. Skyscraper takes maximum advantage of The Rock’s heroism and everyman quality, and Campbell gets to be a badass too.
The fights are full of clever details, which is what makes fight scenes more exciting than just people hitting each other. Shooting Will in the prosthetic leg is cool because a leg shot would hobble even the biggest hulk, but Will’s prosthetic gives him an advantage. Plus, it leads to The Rock in a one-legged fight scene!
The villains’ plans are foiled in bombastic ways. It’s like oh, that’s your plan? What if I do this? And not just Will. Zhao’s security team foils some good ones too.
Skyscraper is a serious action movie. Will has one-liners but they’re not trying to make moments out of nothing. They’re legitimate reactions to awesome things.
We don’t get to know Kores Botha (Rolland Moller) as well as we did Hans Gruber, but he and his gang serve their purpose to cause bad things to happen. It’s satisfying when Will foils them.
There are a lot of gun deaths at the hands of the villains, but nobody bleeds because it’s PG-13. In the’ 90s this would’ve been rated R but The Rock has young fans. It’s plenty exciting with fire and sweat.
I miss the Die Hard formula. It’s an exciting premise and there’s room for all of them, so it’s good to have them back. Writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber engineered Skyscraper to be an awesome thrill machine. Now this is a summer movie!
Skyscraper opens Friday, January 13.More: Dwayne Johnson