There’s nothing especially interesting about the film. It isn’t bad, it’s just not original in any way. But if middlebrow action films are your thing, Skyscraper will hit the spot nicely.
If you haven’t see Skyscraper, you’re not really missing anything. One of a seemingly endless number of action films starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, it’s a perfectly serviceable tentpole summer blockbuster that doesn’t really bring anything new to the genre. But if you did make time for Skyscraper, you likely came away fully satisfied with the chewy, fatty goodness you were seeking.
Far from original, the film’s plot is so basic as to be negligible, but essentially revolves around Will Sawyer (Dwayne Johnson) trying to rescue his family from the tallest building in the world as it slowly goes up in flames. The fire of course was started by nefarious henchmen with nefarious goals, and they spend the movie being menacingly menacing and threatening the family.
Johnson’s wife is played with sincere enthusiasm by Neve Campbell, who doesn’t have very much to do, but makes a meal of her limited scenes, diving in with gusto and motherly intensity as she fights to get her children out of the building. As the only other cast member with name recognition, it’s surprising that she wasn’t given a more meaty role, but it’s clear that the film makes an effort to show that her character is a self-sufficient woman fully capable of looking after herself. The scenes the two share together are far too brief, but they are sweet and warm and do a fantastic job crafting a believable marriage out of less than ten minutes of screen time.
Overall, what makes this roles a little different for Johnson is that his character is not the action star as is his norm. A former FBI agent sidelined by an explosion that took his leg, Sawyer has largely removed himself from law enforcement work and instead assesses security for high rise buildings. When the plot kicks into gear, you get the sense that he is out of practice with high stress situations. It is his wit and willingness to persevere that get him through the night. Fully focused on the specific goal of saving his family, he survives not because he’s a professional badass, but because he’s determined to keep his family whole.
On a positive note, the movie has been commended for its thoughtful and nuanced portrayal of disability that leans away from common tropes about the disabled community. Given the prevalence of Oscar-bait “inspiration porn” it’s interesting and encouraging to see a regular old B-movie with no aspirations other than a monster box office still make the effort to portray disability with care and concern.
In the end there’s nothing especially interesting about the film. It isn’t bad, it’s just not original in any way. But if middlebrow action films are your thing, Skyscraper will hit the spot nicely.