Skyscraper

2018, Uncategorized

Dir. Rawson Marshall Thurber

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Chin Han, Roland Møller, Noah Taylor, Byron Mann, Pablo Schrieber, McKenna Roberts, and Noah Cottrell.

 

It’s the summer, and that means The Rock has got to get to work. Starring in his third big budget movie of the year after Jumanji (released late last year in some territories), and Rampage, we now have Skyscraper. Teaming up with his Central Intelligence director Rawson Marshall Thurber. Thurber is venturing into unknown territory here, after whetting his action appetite on Central Intelligence he has throw himself head first into the genre here.

Business man Zhao Long Ji, played by Chin Han, has built the worlds largest Skyscraper. It dwarfs every other building in the world housing shops, living quarters, a multi-storey park, and topped off with a mysterious pearl that acts as the penthouse. Dwayne Johnson’s Will Sawyer is the paraplegic security assessor bought in to assess the building and sing off for the insurers. He is given remote access to all the security features via a tablet device, which is soon stolen from him as mobsters attack the building in an attempt to get access to the pearl. They set fire to the building with Sawyers family inside, leaving him to mount a rescue attempt.

Skyscraper aims for a mix of Jurassic Park and Die Hard, and fails to come close to either. The tone is off from the start. The stakes never feeling real enough to be classed as a full on action movie, and the jokes not funny enough to make the film an action comedy. It doesn’t parody the tropes of disaster movies, more lazily follows them. In fact that’s what sums the film up the most; it’s lazy. It goes through its generic plot, with its generic villains, and its generic set pieces competently enough, but never anything more than competent.

I saw this film in 2D, and whilst I have heard that the 3D version is more vertical inducing, the version I saw looked awful. The look of the film is bright and cheap. The special effects look under cooked. It carries on the theme of this film of things being lazy. They’ve given The Rock a prosthetic leg, and besides using it in a couple of set pieces, little mention is made of it. Where some would have used his accident at the beginning of the film as a psychological block for him to overcome, in Skyscraper it doesn’t matter, because Will Sawyer isn’t a character, he is just The Rock; an all star action hero, a walking bottle of charisma.

Dwayne Johnson is probably the saving grace of the movie, although you kind of feel that they missed what made Die Hard such a classic when he was cast. Bruce Willis is the every man, and the jokes work because he’s actively pissed off at the situation he’s in. Here, Johnson just gets on with the action. He’s charisma pulls him through, but it’s also a lazy performance from him. The Rock is currently the most bankable film stars around, but he needs to stop making this type of disposable action trash.

Neither a great action movie, or a funny comedy. Well, at least not intentionally funny. It’s worth a watch for fans of Dwayne Johnson, who is never less than watchable, but is also one of the laziest, by the numbers movies of the summer.

5/10

Rampage

2018, Uncategorized

Dir. Brad Peyton

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Malin Akerman, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Jake Lacey, Joe Manganiello, and P.J. Byrne

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is a bonafide movie star. If you look at his CV, it’s pretty much standard action-adventure fare, with the odd dip into action-comedy. The roles that he plays don’t vary much, but still people flock to see the next movie from The Rock. It’s easy to see why, the man oozes charisma. You don’t go to see a Dwayne Johnson movie to see him get stuck into a character, you go to see him kicking ass whilst quipping witticisms. Rampage sees him teaming up with Brad Peyton, the pair having previously worked together on Journey 2 and San Andreas. The film doesn’t deal in subtleties, it knows it has two main attractions, and puts them both front and centre. Ones a giant albino gorilla, the other is a giant bald man.

Rampage is the story of Davis Okoye, played by Dwayne Johnson. A primatologist who works at a sanctuary. It’s here that he has formed a close bond with an albino gorilla named George. When a container falls out of a space shuttle and crash lands on earth, a pathogen inside infects George. The pathogen is a form of genetic editing, and George soon starts growing at an alarming rate, whilst his aggression levels shoot through the roof. He’s not the only animal to be infected though, there’s also a giant flying wolf, and a giant alligator. Throw into the mix a shady government agency which wants to take George for study, and a shady corporation who want to weaponise the pathogen, Davis will have his work cut out as he tries to return George to normal.

Big. Dumb. Fun. That’s exactly what this movie sets out to be, and boy, does it achieve it. It whips by at a frantic pace, barely leaving you time to catch your breath or think too much about it. Which is good because the plot would not stand up to any scrutiny, but there is enough charm here for you to not really care. It’s a bit of a mish mash of different movies, but they sorta work together. It’s bonkers in all the right ways. The prologue is a blend of Gravity and Alien, but instead of an alien it’s a giant rodent killing people off. It then morphs into Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, before settling on Godzilla. The action is fun, but it’s all held together by another charismatic performance from Dwayne Johnson.

It’s a proper popcorn movie, but does still have the marks of a film which has had major rewrites. It’s a plot where things just happen one after the other without much rhyme or reason. Any excuse to just move onto the next set piece. You’re also introduced to a group of colleagues who work with Davis for the first third of the movie, only to completely disappear and be replaced with characters which fit the plot better. A lot of these characters are given short shrift, although Jeffrey Dean Morgan is good fun. There are also duller moments, the whole sub plot of corporate espionage bores, and the brief introduction to a team of mercenaries which isn’t needed. The film excels when The Rock is on screen doing his thing. The film just needed to keep a tighter focus on his story.

Overall, this is hugely enjoyable romp. It’s pure fluff, but there is enough charm and charisma here to put it a step above similar movies. Gladly this is no Transformers, it’s a fun film which knows where it’s strengths lie.

7/10