Scyscraper - This Movie Does Not Rock
Dir: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Starring Dwayne The Rock, Neve Campbell, Pablo Schreiber, Chin Han, Noah Taylor
Welcome to Dwayne The Cock’s second soulless epic of the year. In the kind of shorthand that makes a movie easy to sell in the increasingly dominant market of China, Skyscraper is The Towering Inferno (but not as good) meets Die Hard (nowhere near as good, not even vaguely in the same room, shouldn’t really be mentioned in the same breath, etc.) Dwayne the Cock, sorry Rock, is a former FBI man who lost a leg on the job and now has a mechanical replacement. We mention this because in Thurber’s witless disaster epic, this false leg is here to denote a character trait – you know, as in “this is a different kind of role for Dwayne, he only has one leg in this one.” In reality it’s a prop for clinging onto and hitting things with.
As with The Towering Inferno, this is set in the just constructed biggest building ever! (re-located to Hong Kong – gotta keep an eye on that ever expanding Asian market) and, it is of course, also the safest building. Ever! Which then makes it even more unexpected when it catches fire with remarkable ease following an invasion by a heavily armed group of proto-terrorists who clearly aren’t Hans Gruber but would really like to be.
With his family unexpectedly trapped halfway up the very tall building, what can a poor Rock do ‘cept to randomly climb up a convenient crane and jump off and into the building with his one good leg.
Strangely enough, this and all his further actions are watched not only by us the willing (?) audience, but also by several hundreds of others throughout the film. People use their phones or tablets to follow the action, as crowds gather in the streets below to watch every set piece on giant video screens. You’d like to think that director Thurber (also writing here) is making some sort of commentary on the nature of a contemporary screen obsessed society, but the reality is this Greek chorus of a crowd is there to gasp, cheer or applaud so we in our seats remember to gasp, cheer or applaud as well. They are simply prompts – there to remind us how to react to this movie, just in case our souls have become too inured at this point to do such things for ourselves.
Which is likely, for once again, Dwayne has delivered a movie with lots of dangerous things going on but absolutely no sense of any real jeopardy. When you have two oaks for arms and a Redwood for a chest, it’s hard to come across as human (whether you’re sporting one leg or two.) In lieu of that, he makes jokes about duct tape. The outcome of a Rock movie is never in doubt, but now the mechanics of how you get to that point have become so rote that it is simpley remarkably dull, despite the level of noise and flash around it.
With a ridiculous and frankly daft climax set amongst a hall of mirrors (why? WHY??), a contrived plot that hinges on stealing a flash drive (wow – haven’t seen that before!!) and a resolution that involves a secondary character half a mile away resolving issues by pressing a button on a tablet – Skyscraper may set buildings on fire, but it rapidly fizzles out.