Dwayne Johnson is really testing my patience. Following the reprehensible Rampage that he subjected us to in April - currently holding my title of 2018's worst film - he has again failed to rise to the occasion with Skyscraper, delivering another horrifically shallow, mindlessly dumb and painfully generic action-thriller that demonstrates his incapability of playing any other role beyond the dashing lead male looking to save the world and/or his family from a varying threat; be it an Earthquake, pack of giant animals or a - ahem - towering inferno, you can bet your bottom dollar that Johnson will be there, playing the exact same character with a complete disregard for originality or variety. But hey, at least he's charming? When Will Sawyer (Johnson) is called to sign final documents affirming the safety and security of the world's largest skyscraper, The Pearl, his family stay in the building to explore the currently-unopened residency quarters and state-of-the-art surroundings. But when a terrorist organisation and syndicate target the building for extortion, Sawyer must save his family and put a stop to their destructive plans. Director Rawson Marshall Thurber reteams with Johnson in this cut-and-paste job that takes elements of better genre flick and stitches them together into an entirely lacklustre, unimaginative picture featuring the worst case of deja vu.
102 minutes of endless scoffs, eye rolls and brain cell obliteration are the results of Skyscraper's nonsensical plot, weak script and especially appalling dialogue. Thurber script is thinner and flimsier than the paper it is written on, with some of the most inept foreshadowing and downright lazy employment of cliches our cinema screens have seen since, well, Rampage. While no one expects writing excellence in a film designed purely as popcorn entertainment, there's little coherence and no effort in sight: the villains' evil plot is shambolic and so desperately thrown together (no doubt stuck together with duct tape, which, I'm guessing, the film is sponsored by given its narrative prominence). Names aren't important in this film because the characters are built exclusively from stereotypes and broad brushstrokes, designed plain and simply as plot devices with little in the way of personality -- very much like the film in general.
To Thurber's credit, amongst all of the chaos is a handful of solid set pieces; the dizzying heights are a great intensifier in and of themselves but he manages to inject a little bit of excitement into them himself. In one of the few moments the film actually embraces its craziness, Johnson goes flying through the air from the end of a crane into a burning building, suspended in the air, at one stage, by only his prosthetic leg. Perhaps I was just desperate to feel something - anything - by this moment but it's entertaining in the most disposable form. If only the rest of the film was as remotely satisfying...
Johnson's a naturally charming fellow and he tries to carry the film on his shoulders, but I cannot be the only one tiring of these 'save the day' antics and roles we've seen half a dozen times before. He (literally) throws himself into it and his dedication is clear to see but there's nothing distinctive to his characters - besides a missing leg, which evidently isn't missing, just when it's needed as a plot device. When you're relying on a performance you've seen before, the whole thing becomes a slog. It's like I've been playing his films on a loop for three years and we're finally at breaking point now. I think, whatever comes next from Johnson, unless it's a notable departure from his usual shtick, I'll give it a skip. Two films in your bottom five of the year is enough, surely? A film like Skyscraper has so little else going for it that it needs to be, first and foremost, fun. But this is so unoriginal, lazily-assembled and tiresome that all of that goodwill is syphoned away and we're left with an assembly line of genre pieces and conventions that fail to come together in a remotely competent way. I'm not surprised that Skyscraper underwhelmed, just disappointed. Disappointed that I bothered, disappointed that no one else attached to the film could be bothered; even Johnson seems to be on auto-pilot away from the set pieces and while he steps it up for the big action moments, he really must escape this groove of painfully familiar roles soon. Frankly, it's impossible to give a damn about anything going on in Skyscraper and it ultimately collapses in its resistance and inability to attempt anything new or original.