Let’s face it, nobody has ever gone into a Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson action movie expecting a coherent plot or even a believable storyline, and to be frank this hasn’t stopped the actor from becoming one of the most bankable actions stars of the last decade. In the case of Skyscraper, Johnson’s latest vehicle, the stakes are stacked even higher than usual in this hugely enjoyable, if entirely preposterous heist movie which pits the former wrestling superstar against a group of ruthless mercenaries led by comedy villain Kores Botha (Roland Møller) and a burning skyscraper.
Former FBI agent Will Sawyer (Johnson) has just about recovered from a particularly traumatic episode which took place a decade earlier, and which resulted in him losing a leg. Now retired from the force and heading a small security firm, Will is drafted by former FBI buddy Ben (Pablo Schreiber) to head the security team in the newly built world’s tallest building, a Hong Kong skyscraper owned by chinese billionaire businessman Zhao Long Ji (Chin Han).
Things quickly descend into chaos when Will’s wife Sarah (Neve Campbell) and young twins Henry (Noah Cottrell) and Georgia (McKenna Roberts) find themselves trapped in the now burning building, unable to get to safety. In order to save them, Will manages to break into the burning building in a Die Hard-esque series of hilariously over the top and nail-biting action set pieces.
Johnson, who is no stranger to this sort of schtick, is extremely likeable in a role that doesn’t seem to venture too far off from what is expected from him. With witty one-liners and a degree of knowing banter, Johnson is in his element despite the film’s truly ludicrous screenplay. Elsewhere, Neve Campbell puts in a solid and convincing turn in a role which is far more accomplished and well-rounded than the usual “wife” parts we’ve come to expected from these sort of movies.
Written and directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber, who cut his teeth on hugely successful comedies such as Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004) and We’re the Millers (2013), Skyscraper presents a fiercely self-aware narrative that’s as ridiculously over the top as it is hugely entertaining. Elevated by a brilliantly versatile and multilateral cast, the film delivers on its promise of pure unadulterated action from start to finish, and even if, in the end, we are not completely sold on its far-fetched and frankly laughable premise, nobody can deny that Skyscraper is set to break records with its intended demographic whether it gets canned critically or not.
Overall, Skyscraper not only manages to tick all the boxes needed to make this into one of the most enjoyable blockbusters of the summer, but it also does it with a knowing wink and a nod to other action classics. Not entirely without fault, but great fun.