Writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber (Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story and We’re the Millers) isn't known for big budget action movies, but his newest film Skyscraper is a hybrid of Die Hard and The Towering Inferno—one that mostly disappears from memory once it’s over.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson plays Will Sawyer, a man who retired from the FBI after he lost a leg in a hostage rescue attempt. As a security consultant for what will be the tallest building in the world, he goes on a work trip to Hong Kong, bringing his wife (Neve Campbell) and kids (Noah Cottrell and McKenna Roberts) with him.
Of course, a group of bad guys start a fire in the building as revenge against the structure’s owner (Chin Han), trapping Johnson’s family. Johnson then goes into action hero mode with predictable results.
Predictability isn’t necessarily a bad thing in genre films. Die Hard worked not just because the concept was fresh at the time, but also because it had a terrific villain in Alan Rickman as well as memorable supporting characters like the beleaguered policeman played by Reginald Veljohnson. The villains and supporting characters in Skyscraper do not register at all. Action movies still need compelling relationships between characters, and Skyscraper doesn’t have them. There’s a little potential in an early subplot between Johnson and a former colleague (Pablo Schreiber), but it disappears quickly.
Skyscraper does show some imagination in the creative ways Johnson uses his artificial leg as a tool, but most of the film lacks that creativity. It ends up being the kind of movie that isn’t bad—just highly forgettable.