Dwayne Johnson’s ‘Skyscraper’ a ‘Die Hard’ knockoff that doesn’t try hard

“Skyscraper,” Dwayne Johnson’s hostages-in-a-high-rise action spectacle, owes an obvious debt to “Die Hard.”

Unfortunately, writer-director Rawson Marshall Thurber (“Central Intelligence”) doesn’t even bother to try hard.

The result is a movie that’s simultaneously much too convoluted and far too lazy.

Johnson portrays Will Sawyer, a combat veteran and former FBI hostage rescue team leader, who’s entered the narrow field of skyscraper security assessment. He and his family — wife Sarah (Neve Campbell) and 8-year-old twins (McKenna Roberts, Noah Cottrell) — have traveled to Hong Kong so Will can provide feedback to Zhao Long Ji (Chin Han), the billionaire developer of The Pearl, the world’s tallest building, standing more than 3,500 feet.

The unsuspecting Will has no idea he’s about to become an integral part of an elaborate theft perpetrated by Kores Botha (Roland Moller), the hired muscle for three crime syndicates.

How elaborate you ask? Strap yourself in.

Botha needs to retrieve something from Zhao’s 220th-floor penthouse atop The Pearl, so he waits for Will to show up and be handed a tablet that gives him access to the entire building and sends goons to steal it. He then frames Will — for, well, something, apparently — so that he’s kinda, sorta sought by the police. All this is so Botha can override all of The Pearl’s redundant security measures and state-of-the-art fire suppressants to torch the 96th floor, wait for the blaze to possibly, eventually make its way up 124 stories, smoke Zhao out of his home and hopefully find a way to get him to surrender the item.

That’s the best plan a criminal mastermind can hatch?

Did Botha order that from the ACME catalog, somewhere between the Giant Rubber Band and the Earthquake Pills?

Even if you can accept the sublime idiocy of this scheme, it’s virtually impossible to overlook the scene in which Will — despite having a nasty forearm gash and having taken a bad fall on his shoulder — is able to scale more than a thousand feet up the beams of a construction crane in moments, before the police can cut through a simple lock and take the elevator up there or get a helicopter off the ground, without being the least bit winded.

Then there’s Will’s obsession with duct tape, as though “Skyscraper” originally was intended as a “Home Improvement”-era vehicle for Tim Allen. If you can’t fix it with duct tape, you don’t have enough duct tape, Will announces to no one while using the adhesive to bandage a deep wound. When Zhao asks if Will has a plan, he responds, “Got any duct tape?” Will even wraps his hands and shoes with duct tape to help him cling to The Pearl’s glass facade like a redneck Spider-Man.

“Duct Tape Presents Skyscraper” is full of as many needless details as The Pearl. And, considering the only people inside the massive, unfinished structure are Will, his family, Zhao, a few aides and a gaggle of bad guys, it feels very nearly as empty.

The Pearl features a 30-story park that, while a terrible use of space from a cost-benefit analysis, seems designed for a major action set piece — yet Will, his family and the terrorists blow through it faster than the fire. Massive turbines that power The Pearl feel like another attempt to one-up “Die Hard,” which elicited great suspense from John McClane’s (Bruce Willis) narrow escape between the blades of a small fan in the building’s cooling system — yet, once again, Will overcomes the obstacle with ease.

Here’s the thing about “Die Hard” and why it endures, nearly 30 years after its release: It’s an underdog story of a barefoot cop, 2,500 miles from home, trapped by terrorists in an unfamiliar building. As the franchise’s sequels already proved, bigger doesn’t equal better. Pitting a security expert against some third-rate, wannabe baddies in a bigger building — a building the hero knows better than anyone aside from its developer — isn’t just uninteresting, it’s uninspired.

“Skyscraper” is full of plot holes big enough to lay the foundation for another skyscraper.

Fittingly, considering all the shoutouts to duct tape, most of the movie feels as though it were patched together with the sticky stuff.

Contact Christopher Lawrence at clawrence@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4567. Follow @life_onthecouch on Twitter.

Benny the Ice Skating Dog
Benny is a Las Vegas Labrador who was rescued by former pro skater Cheryl Del Sanyo, and trained to ice skate. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Nevada State Museum
The Nevada State Museum of Las Vegas, located at the Springs Preserve, covers all eras of the state, from prehistoric to today.
Throw a better dinner party
Cash appears at Baseball Winter Meetings
Lights FC mascot Cash plays the electronic drums at the EZ Inflatables’ booth on Tuesday at the Baseball Winter Meetings trade show at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
5 albums to soundtrack your holiday gatherings in style
1. Various Artists, “Holidays Rule," with Rufus Wainwright, The Shins, Calexico and more. 2. Various Artists, “We Wish You a Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year," with Lemmy Kilmister, Alice Cooper, Chuck Billy and others. 3. Various Artists, “Christmas on Death Row," featuring Snoop Dogg and Nate Dogg to name but a few. 4. Bright Eyes, “A Christmas Album.” 5. Various Artists, "The Motown Christmas Album." (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Inside the kitchen at Springs Preserve
The staff of Divine Events do party preparation in the kitchen at Divine Cafe at Springs Preserve. With nine parties the following day, this is a particularly busy time for the crew. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
WinterFest in Henderson.
Miss Rodeo America Fashion Show
The 28 women contestants of Miss Rodeo America compete in a fashion show at the Tropicana on Dec. 7, 2018.
Tournament Of Kings Holiday Show
Wizards and warriors are ready for the holidays at Excalibur's Tournament of Kings Holiday Dinner Show.
Take a dive with the Silverton mermaids
A visit to the Silverton Casino Hotel is not complete without taking in the popular, and very unique, mermaid show.
Cowboys and western aficionados can buy virtually anything at Cowboy Christmas
Vegas Golden Knights Christmas Display
In the Las Vegas Valley, the chances of getting a white Christmas are slim. But this year, you can have a “Knight” Christmas. A Henderson resident has a Christmas lights display that is synchronized to the entrance music for the Golden Knights. GG Misa’s Knights light show is played every 30 minutes from 5 to 10 nightly. His light show consists of two songs: Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” and the entrance music, “Le Castle Vania,” from the movie “John Wick.” The display is located at 730 Bollons Island St. (Richard Brian/Las Vegas Reivew-Journal)
Holiday Hooch At El Cortez is Just in Time For Repeal Day And Christmas
Holiday Hooch At El Cortez Is Just In Time For Repeal Day And Christmas. Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal
TV's LGBT superheroes
Green Valley Ranch's Winter's Village
The Mob Museum
Best Friend Menu Reveal Wednesday
Chef Roy Choi tells us what to expect from Wednesday’s Facebook Live Menu Reveal for his new Park MGM restaurant Best Friend. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Quick Chat With Criss Angel
James D. Gish and Susan Anton rehearse
Susan Anton will be special guest at James D. Gish’s holiday concerts Dec. 7 at Summerlin Library and Dec. 9 at Clark County Library. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio Winter Wonderland
"Majestic Holiday Magic" at the Bellagio Conservatory.
Underwater Santa At The Silverton
Santa takes a dive Sunday, December 2, at the Silverton Casino Hotel. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Cowabunga Bay Christmas Town
Las Vegas Natural History Museum
Las Vegas Natural History Museum, which opened in 1991, has exhibits of mechanical dinosaurs and taxidermied animals, along with live snakes, fish and sharks. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Magical Forest Lights
Cirque Du Soleil Performers Team Up For New Show "Kinekt"
Through dance, acrobatics and aerial arts, “Kinekt” tells a story all too familiar to modern families: how to maintain a human connection in the digital age. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ethel M Holiday Cactus Garden
The Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas
The Pinball Hall of Fame was created by Tim Arnold and opened in 2006. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jump! The Ultimate Dog Show at Springs Preserve in Las Vegas
Trainer Lou “Mack” McCammon guides several rescue dogs through a series of tricks and jumps two shows a day weekends through December at the Springs Preserve in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Buddy V - Sep 21 Confidante
Famous Infinity Mirror Room is open in Las Vegas
Yayoi Kusama's "Aftermath of Obliteration of Infinity" mirror room is open at the Bellagio in Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like