Rawson Marshall Thurber takes a break from directing comedies and Dwayne Johnson is on a hiatus from pairing with jungle animals in Skyscraper. Drawing clear inspiration from The Towering Inferno and Die Hard, the action thriller casts Johnson as Sawyer, an ex FBI agent who lost a leg in a hostage situation gone wrong. It didn’t all turn out badly though because he ends up marrying his surgeon (Neve Campbell) and they have two cute kids. Sawyer now works as a safety analyst for giant buildings and the biggest one has just been erected in Hong Kong by a billionaire entrepreneur (Chin Han). An occupational hazard develops when some terrorists led by Roland Møller set The Pearl (what the 200 plus story structure is named) on fire. Sawyer must then save his family from the burning. If you think one of his kids is asthmatic and the screenplay uses that overused cliché, you sure are right!
For a filmmaker who’s done Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, We’re the Millers, and Central Intelligence (with Johnson), Thurber keeps this a mostly humor free experience – save for our protagonist’s affinity for duct tape. While I’ve already mentioned its most obvious influences, the climax pays homage to The Man with the Golden Gun, of all Bond pics. That one is on the lower end of 007 efforts and so is this as far as Johnson’s action output.
Skyscraper never bothers to develop worthwhile villains and that’s something Die Hard sure had. The Towering Inferno had cutting edge effects at its time. Not here. And, um, the aforementioned Bond movie had a main bad guy with a third nipple. So that’s something.
Johnson manages to exude some charm, but it can only go so far with this ultimate nondescript affair. I could say something obvious like “Skyscraper didn’t floor me”, but that would be as lame as putting in a kid with asthma.
** (out of four)