Sunday, 15 July 2018


Fire Hard

2018 USA Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber
UK cinema release print.

I guess it would be somewhat lazy thinking for me to say that Skyscraper is really just The Towering Inferno meets Die Hard but, then again, it’s kinda lazy writing from the people coming up with these kinds of ‘seen it, done it’ story ideas in the first place so, you know, I’m just going to say it anyway.

Skyscraper is the latest fun romp of a movie headlining Dwayne Johnson (aka The Rock) in the lead role. I kind of see him as this generation's Errol Flynn in the kind of choices and personae he seems to be inhabiting of late and I have to say that, although a lot of the movies he’s in aren’t exactly think pieces, I have a lot of time for these light and fluffy action vehicles he’s so good at supporting.

In this one we see him as the one legged health and safety man, Will Sawyer, who has come to Hong Kong to give the once over for a brand new skyscraper, the world’s tallest building, before it’s opened for the public. And, yeah, in a brief pre-credits sequence, you do get to find out just how he comes to only be in possession of part of his right leg and you also you get to see how he meets his wife Sarah, played by Neve Campbell. His wife and two young children accompany him on the trip to this quite beautiful looking building, The Pearl, which presents itself as it gets near the top as two fingers holding a globe. They are the only people staying at the building before its due to be open to the public (asides from the owner and his team)... in a canny move by the writers, I’m guessing, so they don’t have to deal with gazillions of extras running around in their disaster scenes of burning debris.

Why does the building catch fire? Because those Die Hard style terrorists are trying to flush the building’s owner out so he grabs the most valuable thing in his safe, a drive with all the criminal pay offs they’ve been extorting from people globally... and safely shut it down while the owner is still alive so it doesn’t 'auto send' to the police on his death (I never know how you get computer drives to do that, myself). Sawyer has been set up and put in this situation by another member of his old military team (seen in the pre-credits sequence) and it’s up to him to somehow get back into the burning building past the police, locate his wife, children and the owner... and then somehow get them all out of there alive.

And in many ways its the fun kind of warm hearted bonding combined with hard edged action we’ve come to expect from movies starring The Rock... with a touch of flaming mayhem thrown in for good measure. Now, that being said, there are some terrible clichés and stuff you’re going to have to pretend you don’t notice if you want to have the best time possible with this movie.

For instance, near the start there’s a whole bit of business where The Rock is drumming into this wife that the best way to fix her phone is to use the old, tried and true method of switching it off and on again. Yep... so straight away you know there’s going to be a scene in this movie somewhere where something has to be rebooted and she will remember her husband’s advice and go for it. And... yeah... of course that happens.

Another slight issue is The Pearl... which is the name of the big globe near the top of the building which the structure takes its name from. Early on in the film, Will Sawyer is given a demonstration of the beauty of this place, which can have invisible walls so you can be ‘walking on air’ over two hundred stories up and which has a load of confusing, rising screens which come out and act like an elaborate hall of mirrors with feedback of the occupants walking around at various angles and zooms. And... yeah... if you know anything about movie history you’ll be thinking that the big, end confrontation of the movie is going to take place here as a partial homage to Bruce Lee’s final confrontation in Enter The Dragon. And, of course, if you are thinking that... you wouldn’t be wrong. Why else have such an elaborate set up demonstrated for you if they’re not going to make full use of it later. It’s not the only film to have done this over the past year, either.

So yeah, clichés abound and we even have the kind of villainous characters who kill off their own people to either prove a point or save on their payroll. I’ve never been able to work out movie villains who have this penchant for killing their own crew. How would this kind of behaviour inspire loyalty? What makes you think anyone is going to want to work for you again? Assuming you didn’t already kill them all off on their first job with you. So, yeah, Hannah Quinlivan’s character Xia makes a nice killer and I would have liked to have seen a few more action sequences with her but... seriously... who wants to hang around with this lady when she’s as likely to kill her worker bees as much as her opposition? Not me, for sure.

However, these are all the kinds of Hollywood style shenanigans you would expect from a movie like Skyscraper and with effective acting to portray likeable characters, supported by some decent action editing and a Steve Jablonsky score which will, apparently, be getting a CD release sometime in August (I’m happy to say), Skyscraper is a fun ride and a nice evening out at the cinema. And, yes, you can bet The Rock makes all kinds of weaponised, survival moves with his handy, prosthetic leg. Short review here for such a tall building but I don’t have much more to say about this one. If you like The Rock’s movies you’ll already know what to expect and this one certainly lives up to those expectations. Maybe give it a go if you are into these kinds of films.

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