This may be the stupidest movie that The Rock, the Laurence Olivier of stupid movies, has ever been involved in. It cannot be overstated just how daft it is, but because Skyscraper is in on the joke, because it’s enjoying its own absurdity and pushing everything forcefully over the top, it is ridiculous amounts of fun. Stupid is only a bad thing when you think you’re smart.
The Rock plays Will Sawyer, a former Marine who now works as a fire safety officer. He has been hired to check the safety of The Pearl, a 240-storey building in Hong Kong. While he is assessing the building, Sawyer is staying on its 98th floor with his family. Despite being someone who would let his loved ones live in a building not yet declared completely safe, he is a dedicated father and husband. Bad guys attack the building, hacking its safety system and setting all the middle floors alight, in order to smoke out its billionaire owner (Chin Han) and rob him of an important USB drive. The most needlessly elaborate heist in history goes awry and traps Sawyer’s family in mortal danger. He must do whatever’s necessary to rescue them, and he will not allow the laws of physics or any sort of logic to stand in his way.
Together with director/writer Rawson Marshall Thurber (Dodgeball, which should tell you a lot), The Rock strives to make a film that will leave you entertained to within an inch of your sanity. Every action scene is engineered to make you chuckle at how demented it is. It’s almost daring you to roll your eyes at its disregard for sense, but you daren’t in case you miss something. Something like The Rock climbing over 300 metres up the side of a crane and then jumping off that crane into a burning building. Or The Rock using gaffer tape gloves to Spider-Man his way around the glass skyscraper and then do a big Tarzan swing into a flaming turbine so he can hit an off switch. Or a fight in a high-tech hall of mirrors that is introduced early in the film with clearly no other purpose than to provide a good venue for the finale. It is feast for the eyes and a famine for the brain.
All this works because Thurber and The Rock provide 100% commitment, as do the rest of the cast (respect to Neve Campbell for treating her super-mum role with utmost seriousness). They’re not winking at the audience, but nudging us along for the ride. It’s a throwback to the overblown movies of Schwarzenegger and Stallone, but with a sense of silliness they very rarely had and even more rarely did well (comparisons to Bruce Willis’ Die Hard are not entirely apt, because they misrepresent how smartly constructed Die Hard is).
If you overthink it, Skyscraper is a terrible movie. But why would you? It’s a movie in which The Rock takes on a flaming tower with just some sticky tape and a can-do attitude, and it provides everything you could possibly want from that.