Skyscraper

Posted on July 12, 2018 at 3:39 pm

B-
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sequences of gun violence and action, and for brief strong language
Profanity: A few bad words
Alcohol/ Drugs: None
Violence/ Scariness: Extended peril and violence with some disturbing images, many characters injured and killed, children in peril, fire, explosions, chases, automatic weapons, guns, knives, fights
Diversity Issues: Diverse characters
Date Released to Theaters: July 13, 2018
Date Released to DVD: October 8, 2018
Copyright Universal 2018

As generic as its title, “Skyscraper” has all the elements of a US/China production, unapologetically a lowest-common-denominator delivery system for stunts.

Dwayne Johnson, who at this writing has a movie premiering on cable (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle), a movie just released on DVD/Blu-Ray (Rampage), and “Skyscraper” opening in theaters, has turned into something of an assembly line production facility for PG-13 action. This one is the weakest of the three, with strong visuals but a weak script. Johnson’s specialty, going back to his days as a professional wrestler, is his easy charm and sense of humor, but neither gets much display here as verbal, quippy comedy does not translate well. So we get a brisk five minutes of backstory, a brisk ten minutes of “aw, he loves his beautiful family, including the kid with asthma” to set the stakes, and then it’s one daunting shoot-out, escape both into and out of the burning building, someone hanging by one arm, someone hanging by one leg, and fight scene, after another, with several scenes of people watching the action on screens, including Byron Mann of “Altered Carbon” as the local police chief, and just one quip, even that one taken from a TV commercial. Oh, and there’s a hall of mirrors shoot-out to remind us that the original in The Lady from Shanghai, was so much better.

Following in the tradition of trapped in a building classics like Die Hard and Towering Inferno, “Skyscraper” has Will (Johnson), his Navy surgeon wife Sarah (Neve Campbell), and their twins visiting a new super-tall structure in Hong Kong called The Pearl because of the graceful but enormous tennis ball-shaped sphere on top.

Will, in the manner of “who could imagine a chef would be a special forces combat expert?” action movies, is a mild-mannered security expert who has been brought in for an independent review so that the building’s top half can be approved by the insurance company for residential occupation. Will is former military and law enforcement, but lost his leg in an explosion, and now, he tells the former colleague who recommended him for this job, he has not picked up a gun for ten years. “Laid it down and never picked it up.”

We know what that means. He’s about to pick up a gun. And we know when he tells the building’s owner that there’s just one more safety check to complete to declare it “Fort Knox in the sky,” that means that one last safety check is going to be a problem. After all, that’s why we’re here. Sarah and the kids are trapped by a fire in the building while Will (hmm, wonder what inspired that name) is away, so he has to break in to save them and then get them out. The bad guys who set the fire have their own plans. That’s basically it, and many of the best stunts are in the trailer.

Parents should know that this film has a few bad words and non-stop almost-R level peril and violence, some involving children, including fire, automatic weapons and guns, knives, and fistfights, many characters injured and killed.

Family discussion: Why was Will so nervous about the meeting? Why did Will and his friend have different reactions to their bad experience? What do you like to fix with duct tape? If your house was on fire, what would you save?

If you like this, try: “Rampage” and “Jumanji,” also starring Dwayne Johnson, and the action movie in a building classics “Die Hard” and “The Towering Inferno”

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