Movie review: 'Skyscraper'

Brad Keefe

If there is one thing that my two recent viewings of the documentary “Won't You Be My Neighbor?” have taught me, it's that the world could use a lot more Fred Rogers.

I've seen it twice now. Both times, I made it about a half-hour in before the first tear came. They hardly stop after that.

It's like a snuff film for your feelings.

In this moment, there's something so reassuring, so cathartic about a movie featuring a hero who is so good, so kind, so gentle.

It's a movie that offers a message that all children are deserving of love, and it's one of the best films of the year. Five stars.

The new Dwayne Johnson vehicle “Skyscraper” is the antithesis of that — a loud, dumb action flick that doesn't even tip far enough into its B-movie cheese to pass as silly fun.

Yes, I realize I'm comparing apples and oranges with a gentle documentary and a loud disaster movie, but I can't help but think about what our entertainment is saying about us.

Still, I wanted to enjoy “Skyscraper.” I went in expecting a fun, shitty “Die Hard.” I got a shitty “Die Hard.”

While writer-director Rawson Marshall Thurber lifted his premise from “Die Hard,” he should have invested more time reviewing what remains one of the all-time-great action-movie scripts in order to figure out what made it work.

The similarities won't be lost on anyone. Will Sawyer (Johnson) is a former FBI Hostage Rescue Team leader. In a prologue, we see a domestic rescue that goes wrong, leaving Will injured and under the knife of a Navy surgeon (Neve Campbell).

Flash forward a few years. Will is now married to that surgeon, and they have two kids. We also learn his leg was amputated at the knee, a fact which only occasionally has any narrative relevance.

Will is working on a security consultation with the owner of the world's “tallest, safest” building when bad guys strike, leaving Will to rescue his wife and kids from a burning skyscraper. Action ensues.

“Skyscraper” has its noble, do-good hero in Will, but a lazy script doesn't give audiences much to latch onto, offering a story that's both simple and plodding.

I'm a fan of dumb action, but “Skyscraper” is also too self-serious to tip to the truly ridiculous, which would have been way more fun. And it's surprisingly humorless for a movie from the director of “Dodgeball.”

It's got B-movie level effects without the B-movie fun. It will also probably be the No. 1 movie in the country this week, a reminder of how much we need Fred Rogers.


Opens Thursday

1 star out of 5