The Hippo


Jun 26, 2019









Skyscraper (PG-13)
Film reviews by Amy Diaz


 Dwayne Johnson doesn’t exactly fight a giant building but close enough in Skyscraper, a completely ephemeral but mildly fun action movie.

Will Sawyer (Johnson), a former FBI commando-style hostage negotiator, is now a family man running a small security firm that is on the verge of big success. His fellow former FBI buddy, Ben (Pablo Schreiber), has helped him get a gig doing security for Zhao Long Ji (Chin Han), whose new building in Hong Kong, The Pearl, will be the tallest skyscraper ever. To seal the deal and finalize his security audit, Will and his family have come to stay at the Pearl. Wife Sarah (Neve Campbell) is a former Naval surgeon — in other words, she, like Will, is also a trained badass and she speaks Chinese because of course she does. While Will works, she’s playing tourist with their kids: daughter Georgia (McKenna Roberts) and younger son Henry (Noah Cottrell), who has asthma because the younger kid in these movies always has asthma.
Because this is why we’re all here, Will’s family is quickly trapped in the otherwise mostly unoccupied upper floors of the building when a fire is set roughly in the middle of this roughly 200-floor building. The fire is meant to trap Ji for reasons that feel kind of shaky but whatever, just go with it, and the central baddie is a dude named Kores Botha (Roland Møller), who is muscle-for-hire for even badder dudes we never meet.
Will is a few blocks away when they become trapped and has to fight Botha’s henchmen to get to the building and then figure out how to work his way up, past the fire line, to his family. Sarah, meanwhile, has to figure out how to keep Henry from having an asthma attack and get her kids out of the building without getting captured by the people whom she doesn’t know are bad guys but quickly figures out are bad guys because she knows what kind of movie she is in.
Skyscraper asks absolutely nothing from you. It does not even need you to remember basic biographical details about the characters because the movie repeats them a few times. We aren’t ever really left in suspense about whether that guy’s going to turn out to be bad (Does he make sneaky facial expressions? Then he is!) or whether the understanding police officer Inspector Wu (Byron Mann) will be on Will’s side (he perfectly guesses and then helpfully narrates Will’s motivations, in case you were in the bathroom and missed it). Everything is exactly as it appears and pretty much everything I thought was going to happen happened in the way I thought it would. 
And that’s fine! “Do you want to see The Rock fight some dudes and scale a building?” the movie’s trailer and posters seem to ask you. The movie delivers that, exactly that, nothing more but nothing really less either. By the end of the month (if that long), the movie will have completely erased itself from my memory, but while I was watching it I was moderately entertained. Was my entertainment level equal to the cost of two movie tickets plus popcorn and drinks and maybe the price of a babysitter for three hours? No. I don’t recommend emptying your wallet for this. From the are-you-afraid-of-heights CGI to Johnson’s very straightforward (not winky but not overly earnest either) performance, there is absolutely nothing new here. But it’s hard to completely dismiss a movie this exactly-as-promised either. Sometimes you just want a pleasant roller coaster ride in an air conditioned theater for a few hours. Skyscraper, with its appealing lead and his ability to make even predictable action watchable, delivers on that very specific promise. C+ 
Rated PG-13 for sequences of gun violence and action and for brief strong language, according to the MPAA. Written and directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber, Skyscraper is an hour and 42 minutes long and distributed by Universal Pictures.

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