That being said, Skyscraper is a rip-off. It’s an extremely blatant attempt to try and re-create Die Hard for a modern audience, but only modernizing through adding explosions and “scale” rather than actually bringing anything of worth to the table. And considering Die Hard’s 30th anniversary just happens to land at this film’s opening weekend, it seems more than clear that this movie’s intention is to capture some of that 1988 magic. And that would be honestly fine, or at least tolerable, if Skyscraper brought anything to the table. But it doesn’t. It is a mediocre retelling of the same basic story as the first Die Hard film, not wholly incompetent in any way, but not remotely noteworthy either.
Skyscraper follows Dywane Johnson as Will Sawyer, a former FBI Hostage Rescue Team leader forced to change career paths when a failed negotiation costs him a leg. Now a security consultant, Sawyer is hired by Chinese billionaire Zhao Long Ji (Chin Han) to assess the most technologically advanced and tallest building in the world. But when a terrorist group disables the security systems and sets the building on fire, Sawyer must save his wife Sarah (Neve Campbell) and children from the blaze, which Chinese authorities suspect him of having started.
Just from reading the description, the similarities to Die Hard are apparent. And there are several action set-pieces and character beats that also clearly emulate the action classic. The rigid adherence to the plot of the material upon which the movie is based not only contributes to the movie’s staleness, but also to its predictability. Nothing happens in Skyscraper that isn’t wholly expected, especially to fans of the original Die Hard film. The stale plot isn’t helped by the film’s cookie-cutter characters. Johnson is charming as always, but the rest of the cast play their characters with the same degree of “just going through the motions” that I felt while watching the film.
Very occasionally, the monotony is broken up by something relatively interesting. Some of the action manages to escape the dreaded “I can’t tell what the fuck is going on” shaky-cam of movies like The Hunger Games. And the times that the fight choreography syncs up with the movie’s better than decent cinematography make for a few sequences that are pleasing to the eye. The design of the building itself is actually really cool, even if the rooftop attraction called “The Pearl” is clearly just a set-up for the film’s final action sequence. Seriously, I’d love for someone to try and explain the practical applications of what is essentially a really good Funhouse mirror.
At the end of the day, Skyscraper is forgettable. Nothing about it is really worth diving into. It was a film experience that I’m sure I’ll have entirely dismissed by the time the end of the summer rolls around. Maybe if it had tried building upon the foundation if the original Die Hard, rather than just copying and pasting its script and changing a few things, it could have gotten somewhere. But instead, it’s harmless summer blockbuster monotony.