Dwayne Johnson has been on quite a steady streak as of recently. Johnson could either spiral up with consciousness and charm or tumble downwards in a landslide of blatantly obvious CGI and terribly written dialogue – conversational and/or comedic.
Synopsis: Global icon Dwayne Johnson leads the cast of Legendary’s Skyscraper as former FBI Hostage Rescue Team leader and U.S. war veteran Will Sawyer, who now assesses security for skyscrapers. On assignment in China he finds the tallest, safest building in the world suddenly ablaze, and he’s been framed for it. A wanted man on the run, Will must find those responsible, clear his name and somehow rescue his family who is trapped inside the building…above the fire line. (Universal Pictures)
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, and Pablo Schreiber
Writer: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Rating: 14A (Canada)/PG-13 (United States)
Running Time: 102mins
Thankfully, there’s enough passion, energy, and talent from most everyone involved in the production of his latest leading role that the final product is something to awe at. That final product is Skyscraper, a film in where Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson stars as an average family man, whose troubled past comes back to haunt him in the most entertaining of ways.
At its heart and soul, Skyscraper is a story about redemption via family and reliving past traumas; in a sense, it’s almost cathartic. We’ve seen many films of this type – gigantic, Hollywood action films – being rained upon cinemas across the globe though there’s something special about how Thurber tackles this narrative tone. We are instantly thrown right into the action with an exceptionally directed and executed action scene, involving Sawyer during his years as apart of HRT (hostage rescue team). The skill that resides at the fingertips of Mr. Thurber when it comes to over sentimentality work very effectively when it comes to the melodramatic storyline. He utilizes this tactic perfectly in his comedic efforts to add emotional tension but the results are far more effective when executed in this narrative. Johnson has got to have something to fight for!
That fight is definitely a very intense and marvelous one. It’s a grand spectacle of chaos, ambition, and hyperrealism. Everyone involved in the production knows exactly what they are making and they beg for you to riot and laugh along with them. Thankfully, there is no need to beg for this reaction. The overall energy that the film emits is a euphoric sensation; sensory overload, if you will. Johnson is aware of the fact that he is a modern-day superhero without the costume and he embraces this wholeheartedly. On countless occasions, he defies the laws of gravity and physics as his character scales and parades around the 220-foot building. It is immediately obvious that his partners and colleagues are feeding off of his lovability, and who can truly blame them?
After all of the entertainment value is appreciated at surface value, you can tear behind the curtains to reveal something that is a little less fortunate. Although the screenplay is quite consistently cognizant, there are far too many moments of melodrama in hopes of dramatic tension and emotional tension. This leads to some problems with overall consistency in terms of pacing. The film resorts to a grinding halt every time Thurber must reconnect and progress the situation with Sawyer’s family, including his wife Sarah (Campbell) and his daughter Georgia (McKenna Roberts). To do so, the script resorts to the most redundant of Hollywood cliches involving a family in peril and regrettably so. It simply felt like Thurber has such a strong desire to focus entirely on the thrilling action that he uses these scenes strictly as filler. There’s a potent vibe of unintentional comedy and uninspired execution during these moments, and this is when everyone loses their spark. Leave it to The Rock himself to stay committed to his craft and character throughout the entire process because he, thankfully, still make these scenes somewhat bearable.
Everyone involved on the project should be commended for creating something that consistently sparks joy and adrenaline into its audience members. This showed every possible clue at being yet another big-budget disaster on Hollywood’s poor luck chain, yet it prevailed with a sense of glee and passion. The film ultimately carved into stone how a checklist for a narrative can deeply fracture its ability to stand out in a time such as this. That checklist, unfortunately, begins to become more apparent while ripping off the skin of the film. Most notably, the film breaks various logical perspectives (even when you accept that Dwayne Johnson is a superhuman) on many different occasions. It’s still an incredibly good time if you manage to keep your brain shut off for a good amount of it but it may be difficult to do so at times.
Johnson just continues to embrace the typecast label the grand majority has placed upon him and as long as he’s happy doing what he loves, then good for him. Just keep cranking these out Dwayne, as long as that spark is there then we’ll all be right there with you!