The Rock vs Concrete

What’s The Movie? Skyscraper 

What’s It All About, JG? The Rock Punches a Building. Repeatedly. For a couple of hours. He’s playing a security consultant, Will Sawyer, who lost a leg in a mission gone wrong and who’s now hired to check out the security in the world’s tallest building. It all goes wrong, the building ends up on fire, his family are trapped inside and… wait, wasn’t this made in the ’70’s? Repeatedly? Yes, this is an attempt to resurrect the deservedly-moribund disaster movie for reasons that, beyond box office, remain thoroughly mystifying. It’s not like any of these movies were decent the first time round…

Why Did You Give It A Go? Boredom, red wine and peer pressure. I have a friend (nameless, but a bossy Australian) who insists that The Rock is somehow more than a collection of quirks and muscles strapped into a tank top, but is instead a charismatic leading man just looking for the right movie to really shine in. Being generally unfamiliar with The “Dwayne Johnson” Rock’s larger career I can’t really speak to that, but the aforementioned combination of tedium and alcohol led me to give this a try.

Is It Any Good? Is it fuck. Skyscraper is obviously, consciously patterned after the likes of The Towering Inferno, The Poseidon Adventure or Airport, but there’s a very good reason these films are called disaster movies and it has precious little to do with the titular catastrophes… The idea of welding the format of 70’s disaster movies to the action aesthetic of the 21st century isn’t intrinsically a bad one, since they obviously share DNA somewhere down the line, but if it’s going to work it need to be in a considerable stronger movie than this one. There are just way to many flaws to hand-wave away here. It’s not like most action movies manage to have deep characterisation, but even by those standards the characters here are thin – the family might as well be named Mrs Wife, Child #1, and Child The Other One for all the characterisation and distinctiveness they’re given, and their introduction as a rote plot device to get Sawyer to care about events in the building is almost insultingly perfunctory. There’s also a McGuffun storage device which the Bad Guys want because it has incriminating data – and yes, they might a well be called Bad Guy #1, Bad Guy #2, and Bad Guy #The One Who Plays Hitler in Preacher I Wonder If He Will Turn Out To Be Evil? Yes, this movie literally has Hitler in it and asks us to ponder whether he’ll turn out to be a bad guy. It’s all just very dreary. Formulaic is one thing – no disaster movie really succeeds on innovation – but this is just taking the piss. Siri could have constructed a more engaging plot.

How Many Of These Films Did You Watch? 70’s disaster movies were a mainstay of boring Sunday evening telly growing up, so an inordinate number of them. In terms of The “Dwayne Johnson” Rock movies, the only other ones I’ve seen are Rampage and San Andreas. They were rubbish too.

Would You Recommend It? Well you can probably guess by now, but no. It’s not even a fun take-the-piss movie. Not that there aren’t laugh-out-loud moments, because there definitely are, but there’s not enough of them to elevate it to so-bad-it’s-good (once you know one of the actors plays Hitler it does become a hilarious waiting game to guess how long it will take for him to turn evil. Not long, as it happens). The Rock himself here is, sadly, just a very bland on-screen presence. Maybe he lights up the screen in other films – the dizzyingly successful Fast And Furious franchise suggest he must be doing something right somewhere – but in this film he’s just… there. Skyscraper tries hard to posit him as a captivating action star but he neither stacks up well against the Old Guard (Schwarzenegger, Stallone, who were at least distinctive) nor looks dynamic against the newcomers (Statham, Jet Li, even Damon in the Bourne movies, all of whom at least seem to have personalities). There’s a couple of early moments in the movie – such as when he’s prepping for The Big Meeting – where he underplays very successfully, and suggests that far from boring action flicks like this there may be a halfway decent performance lurking in there looking for the right film. But this lasts… thirty seconds? Then we’re off to bulging muscles and Eyebrow Acting so this brief flicker of potential is snuffed out. Even the stunts don’t look that special – the big set-piece jump (you know the one, it’s in all the trailers) is OK, but no more than OK, and all the action inside the building is massively predictable, and shot without any flair or panache. What this film desperately needs is something to make it stand out, but there’s almost nothing. The fact that Sawyer has one leg contributes almost nothing except a couple of comedy shots, though the film does deserve to be commended for at least having someone with one leg be the star of an action movie. What a pity it isn’t a better action movie.

Scores On The Doors? 

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