Skyscraper is a tall story that reaches new heights in absurdity, even for a Dwayne Johnson epic.



Dwayne: scaling new heights of absurdity


It’s not looking good. Will Sawyer (Dwayne Johnson) is in a foreign country and the world’s safest, tallest building is on fire. He’s the only guy on earth who can stop the blaze, but he’s also become a wanted man. Framed for multi-billion arson, he’s become target practice for the entire Hong Kong police force. However, the real baddies – led by the muscle-bound, cold-blooded great Dane Roland Møller – also want Will dead because, against the odds, he still thinks he can put out the fire. However, Will’s main concern is that his wife and two adorable children are picture-perfect and oven-ready. Yep, they happen to be the only residents trapped in this vertiginous conflagration. But his real problem is that he only has one leg. Really?


Dwayne Johnson – aka The Rock – has found himself in some pretty hair-raising scrapes, but this really takes the biscuit. It’s a shame that the title Worst Case Scenario has already been taken by a 2014 German comedy, as it’s a perfect appellation for this big-budget disaster epic. Of course, the real star of the film is the eponymous Pearl, a structure that looms out of Hong Kong harbour like a Tolkienesque sceptre, a high-tech edifice three times the height of the Empire State Building. It’s also full of nifty environmental byways, stunning apartments and a virtual reality space that resembles a space-age hall of mirrors (handy for any climactic shoot-out). Described as a Fort Knox of the sky, it is just asking for trouble: the bigger the prize, the bigger the temptation for unconscionable terrorists. The latter cadre even boasts a trigger-happy Chinese supermodel with the morality of a rattlesnake. She certainly looks familiar.


To make any of this ring true, you would need a director with the skill of a Christopher Nolan or a Denis Villeneuve. As it is, writer-director Rawson Marshall Thurber, who brought us the knockabout Dodgeball, We're the Millers and Central Intelligence (the last-named with Dwayne Johnson), has opted for hokum mode, with the dialogue to match. When somebody says, “I’ve got to get you guys out of the building,” it’s, well, kind of bleeding obvious. There are many such howlers and a general air of B-movie silliness that undermines any hope of credibility. Still, there’s a nice camaraderie between Johnson and Neve Campbell as his ass-kicking wife. He: “I love you.” She: “You better.” Furthermore, the script’s proliferation of worst fears builds up to keep one vaguely anxious: a towering inferno, heartless mercenaries, dizzying altitudes, misappropriated technology and a young boy with asthma (natch). But this runaway express ride of potential horror should do more than keep us mildly engaged.




Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Chin Han, Roland Møller, Noah Taylor, Byron Mann, Pablo Schreiber, Hannah Quinlivan, Beatrice King, Matt O'Leary, Byron Mann, McKenna Roberts, Noah Cottrell, Tzi Ma.


Dir Rawson Marshall Thurber, Pro Beau Flynn, Dwayne Johnson, Hiram Garcia and Mary Parent, Screenplay Rawson Marshall Thurber, Ph Robert Elswit, Pro Des James D. Bissell, Ed Julian Clarke and Michael L. Sale, Music Steve Jablonsky, Costumes Ann Foley and Luca Mosca.


Legendary Pictures/Flynn Picture Company/Seven Bucks Productions-Universal Pictures.

102 mins. USA. 2018. Rel: 12 July 2018. Cert. 12A.