‘Skyscraper’ review: Low-brow high-rise action

“This is stupid.”

Those were the exact words security expert Will Sawyer (Johnson) tells himself before crawling out of a broken window on top of a fictional 240-story skyscraper with just duct tape on his hands and rope tied to his foot for safety.

Will Sawyer is correct.

The plane is absolutely stupid, one that will only be done if forced by the gravest circumstance. It's precisely the situation Sawyer, whose daughter is being held hostage by a Scandinavian thug (Roland Moller), is currently in.

This is stupid

“This is stupid.”

Those are the exact words I imagine writer-director Rawson Marshall Thurber muttering to himself when he was both writing the unabashedly absurd screenplay for Skyscraper and directing Johnson (who is quite empathic despite his imposing stature) to commit to all the film’s ludicrous stunts.

The results are all fine.

There is a certain giddiness to all of the film’s disregard of physics and psychology just to churn out cheap and easy thrills. The film thrives in its parade of action-laden spectacles of the lowest brow set in the highest of locations.

The only concern here is that the film doesn’t go stupid enough. It is a romp that doesn’t really require much thinking to be enjoyed but given that there is already a clear trajectory to go all out, it just doesn’t reach far enough.

For all the film’s attempts at pushing the limits when it comes to driving Johnson to the most incredulous of feats, it never realizes the potential for humor. Sure, Skyscraper is sometimes funny.

However, its comedic reach only goes as far as the few quips that Johnson is allowed to sputter. Believe it or not, the film has an air of seriousness even amidst all its elements that test the boundaries of good taste.

After a string of brawls, gunfights, and explosions that lack that much needed levity, it starts getting exhausting to slog through the pandemonium.

FORMER SOLDIER. Security expert Will Sawyer (Johnson) finds himself trying to save his family from a group of terrorists.

FORMER SOLDIER. Security expert Will Sawyer (Johnson) finds himself trying to save his family from a group of terrorists.

Just another action star

It is much more a wasted opportunity just because Johnson is an actor who is most charismatic when he isn’t taking himself too seriously.

Here, he is just another action star, stifled from carving a more memorable character out of Will Sawyer. There are very many wasted opportunities here. Thurber has written his protagonist to be a hero who lacks a particular limb that is essential when it comes to what he needs to do to save the day.

Like Zatoichi, the blind samurai, or Fang Kang, the one-armed swordsman, Will Sawyer misses a leg. This detail could have been a diving board for personality-building scenes but instead, it is turned into just an aggravating factor to all the incredulity the film bathes itself with.

Clearly, Skyscraper wants to be a rollercoaster ride. The only problem is that this rollercoaster ride only has one trajectory and it gets redundant very quickly.

Senseless thrills

The problem of Thurber’s movie is not that it’s stupid.

Sometimes, there is a discreet pleasure in just allowing your brain to go numb with all the senseless thrills. However, Skyscraper has spectacles that lack variety and color. It is all fire without the pop. It is all long jumps without the purposeful landing. – Rappler.com

 

Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas' Tirad Pass.

Since then, he's been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema