** Spoilers for the movie Skyscraper… WATCH at own risk**
It was a Wednesday evening, Croatia just beat England 2-1 in extra-time thanks to a beautiful goal by Mario Mandžukić (assisted by Ivan Perišić, who also had a wonderful equalizer, coming from a brilliant cross in front of the 6 yard box from the best RB of the tournament Šime Vrsaljko). It was a day filled with euphoria. Little Croatia, with a population smaller than the GTA, beat the Three Lions and is headed to the World Cup Finals. As every self-respecting Croatian, I was loosing my mind, blasting Prljavo Kazalište from the car whilst driving around, flag draped across my shoulders. Nothing could ruin this feeling of unity, love, peace, and positivity. Well… almost nothing. Then I watched Skyscraper.
If you Google Skyscraper, the genre is stated as Drama/Crime. To be honest, I think it should be switched to Comedy. This movie was so bad, that at times the audience would burst into laughter during moments of peak tension for the absolute lack of gravitas and emotional connection we felt to the diegetic world on screen. It was like watching your older sibling playing Assassins Creed, but with a worse plot and even more LUDICROUS free-running. I mean, The Rock literally used duct tape (and made the joke that was everywhere on social media about 7 years ago), to scale a glass building that was over 300 stories tall. But honestly, that was the least worrying thing about this movie.
Before I continue writing this review there are a couple of things I would like to say. First of all, hats of to Mr. Johnson for attempting a movie like this. Stepping out of ones comfort zone is a very noble thing to do and a risky move. Sometimes the risk pays of, like it did with Moana, and sometimes it does not. This time, it did not pay off. Secondly, the CGI was NOT horrible (except for the silly helicopter crash and the fire, those were just bad). Now, that that’s out of the way, I can continue.
Possibly the worst part of this movie is the dialogue. I am not talking about the delivery of the dialogue which was also poor, but rather, the writing itself. You think the Star Wars Prequels were bad? Yeah, they sound like a Shakespearian soliloquy compared to this. The whole relationship between Will Sawyer (Johnson) and Sarah (Neve Campbell) was so bland and robotic. There is absolutely no way that their performance was of a husband and wife who love each other. The director and screenwriter hoped that the audience would form an emotional attachment simply by saying that they are married and that she helped him heal. They did NOTHING to show the audience that their connection is worth caring about. No thank you. The butter on top of my popcorn had more chemistry than these two or anyone else in this movie.
The opening scene of the movie had them bantering over fixing her phone (he tells her to turn it off and on again but she doesn’t and just asks him). I would have no problem with this mindless dialogue EXCEPT FOR THE FACT that she ended up saving the whole building and the lives of her husband and daughter because she turned the tablet on and off again, restarting the system. HA HA very funny… NO! This is not how you write a movie. The antagonist’s dialogue is bad, the police officers and detectives were even more useless than Stormtroopers, and honestly they could have shot Mr. Johnson a good handful of times and ended the movie, but since this is Hollywood, that did not happen.
Apart from the dialogue, this movie felt like a pastiche of numerous other films. For example, Skyscraper takes the crowed of onlookers looking at the action from “Angles and Demons”. This is a very smart, but overused card in cinema, as the director relies on the onlookers to tell the non-diegetic audience how to react and what emotions are supposed to be shown, rather then using the film itself to convey the emotions. Another pastiche would be the shaky cam and fighting scene at the beginning of the second act resembling the Bourne franchise. The illustrious shaky cam and rapid edit fighting sequence of the original Bourne movies is replicated here. Unfortunately, it looks like it was shot by a 12 year old just discovering the wonders of cinematography. Over ambitious and at times downright hilarious (look! a motif). The fight itself mimicked the Bourne fights as everyday objects were used to fight (although nothing beats the pen from the original movie). And just as fast as the fight started, it ended, and that was it for hand to hand combat sauf the wife and random female assassin (honestly the character were so underdeveloped I had no idea who she was or what was her point of existing). And with this last sentence – TRANSITION:
All of the characters in this movie, and I use the word all very literally, were criminally underdeveloped. The director and screenplay writers used the most basic archetypal characters and let the audience figure it out. The antagonist’s primary motivation is not explained until the last 20 minutes of the film and even then, it is a cheap cop-out. The two groups of antagonists do not feel connected and honestly felt like separate entities throughout the film, and not working together. I did not care for a single character, mostly because I did not know who they were or why they mattered. Absolutely no emotional investment. As I mentioned above, the family had no chemistry, the kids just looked weird next to Mr. Johnson who tried to play the loving father role.
Another total miss from this movie is the complete utter lack of tension. Dwayne Johnson is dangling 300+ stories from a crane or scaling a building with duct tape and suddenly something slips/breaks/creaks? Yeah… YOU KNOW he is going to survive and nothing will happen. His kids and wife are trapped? They’ll survive. Sarah crossing a tiny plank to save their son and the plank is starting to slip? You might as well take a nap for the entirety of the 8 minute scene because they will all be fine. Mr. Johnson is in a shootout? Not a chance anything will happen. Everyone in that audience knew that nothing bad would happen to any of the main protagonists. So that cut down the main emotion that the movie tried to portray. IF YOU WANT TENSION go watch the World Cup. Personally, in the week leading to watching this movie, I witnessed Croatia go through 2 penalty shootouts and extra time against England. This movie had NOTHING to compare.
However, apart from all of the criticism, the most absurd part (for me) of this abysmal movie is the fact that Hong Kong police allow a random person to take control over their whole operation just because her husband is the guy who is (to their knowledge) responsible for the whole fire. I cannot stand for this. How? Why? Lazy writing. Still, the movie will make millions.
To sum this up:
WHO LET THIS MOVIE HAPPEN? Who thought it was a good idea to give a serious dramatic role to Dwayne Johnson and then let him act that way he did? Who wrote the dialogue? Why does this movie even exist? I cannot put into words my frustration at its existence. Knock on wood I went to the press screening and did not have to waste money on this.
I would NOT recommend this movie to anyone. Maybe when it comes out on Netflix, make a drinking game out of it and let it gain cult status, but for now… This is where I leave you. Go watch the Star Wars Prequels. At least they have memes.