HOLLYWOOD—Just because you have a high-profile action star and an over-the-top premise does not guarantee you have a hit on your hands. For the life of me, I could not stop comparing Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s latest action-thriller, “Skyscraper” to the Bruce Willis action-flick “Die Hard.” Perhaps it’s the fact that this film takes place inside a building primarily, it’s high up in the air and some over-the-top action sequences and scenes take place. The movie involves terrorists (check), it involves funny business with money (check), it involves a hero who endures unexpected odds (check). It sounds like “Die Hard” doesn’t it?! That was my assessment as well.
Johnson stars as Will Sawyer, a former FBI Hostage Team leader who has suffered a terrible setback during his recent mission. He lost his leg and now utilizes a prosthetic leg to move about his day. The bulk of the narrative revolves around ‘The Pearl,’ the highest skyscraper in Hong Kong standing at over 3500 feet tall. Note: the skyscraper is not fully completed, similar to the Nakatomi building in “Die Hard.” The similarities are just too uncanny for me America to dismiss.
Our villain, Kores Botha (Rolland Moller) is looking to shakedown the investors crafting the skyscraper with an extortion scheme. Yeah, this is where the movie lost me a bit because it attempted to be slightly smarter than what it needed to be here. Simply pinpoint our villain wanted to navigate the driver seat to get his hands on millions of dollars. Instead the writer attempted to be clever and the drawback was worse than I expected. Once a fire is set on the 96th floor of the building, Sawyer finds himself in the crosshairs and it becomes a mission for him to clear his name, while rescuing his wife Sarah (Neve Campbell) and their children who are trapped inside the building.
I will admit Campbell was a nice addition to the cast. Audiences all know she is capable of kicking butt from her days in the “Scream” franchise. She is not some damsel in distress; she is capable of fighting back and doing what needs to be done to protect her family. My biggest issue with “Skyscraper” is the film seems to be lacking characters, and some of the stunts are just so out there, the believability factor is impossible to dismiss. I mean a man with a prosthetic leg jumping such a far distance to scale the largest building in the world. Audiences can be misted at times, but this mist just does not seem possible people.
Is “Skyscraper” action-packed and full of thrills and surprises? Yes, but I’ve seen better from Johnson, heck I loved “San Andreas” and “Rampage,” surprised me in more ways than I ever imagined. You know what the shock is: “Rampage,” I entered the theater with no expectations, the same with “Skyscraper.” Unfortunately, this outing falls flat; it doesn’t have the same fun, light-hearted narrative that you expect from a movie that has Johnson’s name as the billable star. You can’t always have winners, and “Skyscraper,” just doesn’t make the cut.