Blu-ray Review: Skyscraper (2018)

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In spring of 2018, Dwyane Johnson starred in a giant animal/monster movie called Rampage. The F/X-driven blockbuster-hopeful wound up under-performing. Over the summer, Johnson was back with another action blowout Skyscraper. While Rampage's 'creature feature' vibe aped bigger hits like Godzilla and Pacific Rim to mostly ill effect, the initial (and lasting, it seems) charge against Skyscraper is that it's basically Die Hard Redux. As if Die Hard hadn't already been revisited more times than anyone can count (including its own four—and counting—sequels).

So what about Skyscraper makes it any more deserving of the Die Hard-rip-off tag than countless other movies? The simple answer is: it's not. Skyscraper is a totally serviceable, if unremarkable and ultimate highly forgettable, action spectacle. And though it ended up performing far worse at the box office, it's a considerably more satisfying serving of escapist entertainment than Rampage (thought it falls short of Johnson's recent high Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle). So if you skipped it in theaters, check out Skyscraper now that it's on Blu-ray (also Blu-ray 3-D and 4K UltraHD).

There's a certain amount of clunky exposition that goes into writer-director Rawson Marshall Thurber's (Central Intelligence) work here, but most of it can be more or less ignored. All that matters is that former FBI hostage negotiator Will Sawyer (Johnson) is stuck on the outside of the world's tallest skyscraper (located in Hong Kong) as it is slowly, steadily engulfed in flames—while his wife (Neve Campbell) and two children are stuck inside. Sawyer is a private security assessor who has been brought in to determine the safeness of the so-called Pearl, a building that is essentially a vertical city. Atop the building is a sphere that allows occupants to feel as if they're walking on air above the city.

Yes, there's a whole espionage thing going on that results in this supposedly safe and secure building turning into a towering inferno. But the fun—and make no mistake, as long as you're willing to really suspend your disbelief, there is quite a bit of fun to be had—lies in Sawyer's attempts to infiltrate the high-rise disaster in order to save his family. And of course, the authorities have reason to suspect Sawyer himself as the culprit behind the fire. And Sawyer's wife Sarah is no mere damsel in distress; the role gives Campbell a chance to display some real action-oriented physicality.

Lots of features bolster a supreme A/V presentation: there are deleted scenes (with optional director's commentary; the scenes are pretty unnecessary), extended scenes (also optional commentary; even less necessary), no less than six featurettes, and feature commentary by director Thurber.

Skyscraper is no Mission Impossible: Fallout when it comes to truly memorable action fare. And it will probably evaporate from most viewers' memories within a week or so of seeing it. That said, it is entertaining in the moment and sometimes that's all you really need from a mindless action flick.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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