Skyscraper (PG-13)

Action/Adventure 103 min. July 13, 2018
By Alan Scherstuhl
A dopey embiggening that is to John McTiernan’s Die Hard what Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World was to Steven Spielberg’s first dino-chomp movie, Rawson Marshall Thurber’s Skyscraper features dead-serious suicide bombers, guns pointed at weeping children and at least three scenes where the bad guys, a pan-national consortium representing “three criminal syndicates,” indiscriminately machine-gun cops and civilians. The flippest of these finds a second-tier villain bursting into a workplace and mowing down rows of innocents at their computers. The filmmakers show us the killer’s enraptured face rather than their violated bodies, so this scene — by the logic of the MPAA — is suitable for families. Apparently it’s healthier for the kids to see how badass the killer looks perpetrating a mass shooting than to face the horror she’s unleashed.

Skyscraper is a family-bonding adventure film starring Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell and two elementary-age kids who are as good at appearing darling (in the early scenes) as they are at play-acting the role of traumatized hostages (in the later scenes). The marketing emphasizes derring-do rather than indiscriminate slaughter, showcasing the bit in which Johnson’s character, Will Sawyer, leaps from the top of a crane toward a sleek Hong Kong tower’s 100th floor. These sequences are the film’s best, its most inventive and exciting, the ones where the action choreography and framing are sharpest. Campbell, as Sarah Sawyer, gets to do more than the wife character in such a movie usually does; rather than the go-get-’em type or the please don’t go get ’em! type, she’s the I’ll stab a motherfucker with these scissors type. Except she can’t say that word as she stabs — this is a family film.
Rawson Marshall Thurber Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Chin Han, Noah Taylor, Roland Møller, Byron Mann, Pablo Schreiber, Hannah Quinlivan Rawson Marshall Thurber Beau Flynn, Dwayne Johnson, Rawson Marshall Thurber, Hiram Garcia Universal Pictures

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