Review: Skyscraper (2018)

Skyscraper (2018)

Directed by: Rawson Marshall Thurber | 103 minutes | action, crime | Actors: Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Pablo Schreiber, Noah Taylor, McKenna Roberts, Noah Cottrell, Kevin Rankin, Roland Møller, Byron Mann, Matt O’Leary, Hannah Quinlivan, Beatrice King, Tzi Ma, Chin Han, Paul McGillion, Kathy Wu, Adrian Holmes

With superstar Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson in the lead role, every film seems to be a guaranteed success. Over the past three years, the former professional wrestler has starred in no fewer than six films, each grossing more than $400 million, two of which have crossed the magical $1 billion mark; and another one close to that boundary.
It is therefore not surprising that films like ‘Skyscraper’ are made; with a relatively small, lesser-known cast that allows Johnson’s star to shine as much as possible. At least, that’s how it seems in advance based on the marketing campaign. In reality, ‘Skyscraper’ strikes a nice balance between the cast, with two surprisingly convincing young actors (Noah Cottrel and McKenna Roberts).

These two know how to convey their fears of death to the public, but the mutual relationship with their parents is also heartwarming. The chemistry in the family is very much present, which makes the actions of Will Sawyer (Dwayne Johnson) very understandable. In the beginning, director Rawson Thurber takes the time to establish this family bond well, from which he reaps the benefits in the future.

In addition to the family ties, Thurber knows how to put down the story as a whole. All parts are neatly set up in advance, so that the course of it feels logical. The end of the story is therefore a neat completion of various elements that have been introduced one by one, something that seems to be becoming increasingly rare in blockbusters in recent years.

The story is fairly convincing, but a blockbuster stands or falls with the spectacle. Of course, from a film set in a futuristic skyscraper, the height of this building can be expected to be realistic. ‘Skyscraper’ succeeds in this with flying colors. Shots in which Will hangs from a crane, with the viewer’s view straight to the ground, even people without a fear of heights have sweaty hands. The various parts of the immense building are also skilfully rendered. In the beginning of the film, Will takes the elevator along all the different floors, from which the different facets of the skyscraper are reviewed one by one. Every piece is animated just as futuristic as it is realistic.

All in all ‘Skyscraper’ is a fine piece of craftsmanship, with a solid script and breathtaking visual effects. However, after watching the film, the unpleasant aftertaste of unoriginality also lingers. Every part of the film has been performed many times before, and the whole thing craves original angles. Unfortunately, it’s painfully clear that the creators of ‘Skyscraper’ didn’t feel the need to tell a new, original story (although this is the biggest Hollywood movie of the year that isn’t based on a book or franchise). The whole feels like a recycled mix of film elements that have nothing new to offer the viewer. This is a shame, because the execution is otherwise very good.

Overall, ‘Skyscraper’ is an almost guaranteed box office success. The film has all the elements to become Dwayne Johnson’s seventh film in three years to exceed $400 million. First of all, of course, thanks to the charisma of Johnson himself, but the film is also well put together in terms of story and spectacle. If the makers had dared to let go of the familiar blockbuster blueprint every now and then, an even more interesting film could have come out of it. Nevertheless, ‘Skyscraper’ is a must to watch on the silver screen.

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