Movie Review: 'Skyscraper'

Look, up in the sky! It's a bird, it's a plane ... No, it's The Rock.
Photo courtesy of Legendary Pictures Productions & Universal Pictures
A vertical city unto itself, "The Pearl" is large enough to fit nearly three Empire State Buildings within its frame. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson plays a security assessor who deems the building the safest structure in the world. That is, before the whole thing catches on fire.

Pro-wrestler turned actor, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, is known for his brawny strength, amusing comebacks, and how he raises his left eyebrow with an otherwise poker face. In “Skyscraper,” he’s fighting a raging fire inside the world’s tallest building, in order to save his wife and children. Will Sawyer (Johnson) is military veteran and former FBI hostage negotiator, who works in private security. His backstory, from a decade earlier, involves a terrifying rescue gone wrong that left him with a prosthetic leg.

Sawyer is now married to his ex-naval surgeon wife, Sarah (Neve Campbell), and they have two children (McKenna Roberts and Noah Cottrell.) As a family, they have temporarily moved into a 220-story Hong Kong building called “The Pearl,” where Sawyer is assessing safety protocols. Sawyer is hired to do a security analysis of The Pearl, which is more than 3,000 feet tall and, at a cost of $6.5 billion, is the biggest and most expensive building in the world. Of course, it also needs to be insured. That’s where Sawyer comes in.  After doing a complete analysis, he presents his security analysis to the building’s billionaire founder,  Zhao Long Ji (Chin Han.)  Without question, Sawyer determines that The Pearl is the safest structure in the world.  That is, before the whole thing catches on fire. 

Sawyer’s family is trapped inside the building. He is stuck on the outside with no way to get to his family, and the police assume he masterminded the fire. The police claim they have everything under control, but Sawyer goes into action-hero mode to rescue his children and wife. It’s a bold move, considering that he’s got a prosthetic leg and it’s the world’s tallest skyscraper.

Is it any Good?  

One of the best things about "Skyscraper" is the extreme lengths that Will Sawyer goes to save his family. The bond that he has with his wife and children causes him to go after the bad guys with a vengeance, which calls for jaw dropping stunts. Under pressure, Sawyer has supernatural strength and amazing athletic aptitude. He swings through the air on a rope, and swings onto a ledge with his burly arms. Then he loses his grip and depends on his other muscular limb to hold him up. To prevent the door from closing, Sawyer uses his prosthetic leg, to wedge into a crevice and prop the door open. Another scene is reminiscent of Disney’s “Tower of Terror,” as an elevator fall thrusts the passengers over a hundred stories, plunging them into what looks like their final ride to the street. Yes, there’s plenty of action-packed thrills in this movie. 

If you’re a parent, you’ll identify with Will Sawyer’s fierce and intense love for his family. He’s ready to do whatever it takes to rescue his wife and kids. He will hunt down the bad guys and kill them with his bare hands, if he has to. 

Appropriateness For Children

As you probably already realize,”Skyscraper” is an intensely violent movie that’s best suited for teenagers and adults. Expect to see life-or-death situations, shooting with guns, stabbings with scissors and knives, choking and strangulation, bomb explosions and mass destruction of property.

The two children in the movie are captured at gunpoint, and are separated from their parents during the fire. In terms of foul language, there is some cursing, but no sex other than a few hugs and kisses. Without giving too much away, the movie ends on a happy note and the children are OK.

Is The Pearl a Real Building? 

You might be wondering (as I was) if The Pearl is a real building in Hong Kong. In the movie, The Pearl is 3,500 feet tall, which would make it the tallest building in the world by a colossal 783 feet over the actual world's tallest building, the 2,717 foot tall Burj Khalifa in Dubai. The difference in height alone is larger than New York's Met Life Tower, which was at one time the tallest building in the world. The Pearl’s 250 stories would also be a world record, undersizing the current record-holder, with the Burj Khalifa's 163 stories. In reality, the tallest building in Hong Kong is the 1,588 foot tall International Commerce Centre, which is less than half the size of the fictional Pearl. 

The Pearl isn’t a real building. But maybe someday an actual skyscraper will be built that’s just as tall, technically-savvy and energy efficient. Hopefully, by then The Rock will still be around to make sure it's safe for the rest of us.