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‘Skyscraper’ leaves audiences with vertigo

News Desk

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Wed, July 11, 2018  /  05:39 pm

Before its release, Twitter users joked that Hollywood had run out of things for Dwayne Johnson to battle. The Rock would beg to differ.

In Johnson's latest film, Skyscraper, he takes on a building – a very tall one.

Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber, the film follows former FBI agent and amputee Will Sawyer (Johnson), who must rescue his family from the tallest building in the world after it is set aflame by terrorists.

Skyscraper does its job. It is thrilling, and audiences get to watch Johnson make impossible, death-defying leaps hundreds of stories above the ground. But it is also a little boring. Most of the film feels like its in the third act, so you are never entirely sure when it will end and how you are supposed to feel. Reveals are made barely 20 minutes into the movie that, in any other flick, would be a final twist.

Still, despite the issues with pacing, the cast gives fine performances. Johnson proves yet again that he is a fun leading man and the rest of the ensemble works well with what they have. But there are so many characters that it is hard to keep track of not only where allegiances lie, but of people’s names. You are left wondering why they are relevant to the story.

The script, also written by Thurber, attempts to bring things full circle, but like the characters, it offers few reasons as to why the audience should care. Despite this, the humor, while out of place from time to time, manages to land more often than not.

One of the film's strengths is its final battle. While the rest of the movie is typical action-movie fare, the final sequence between Johnson’s character and the lead villain manages to elevate the entire story.

Sadly, the editing, helmed by Michael Sale and Deadpool’s Julian Clarke, is all over the place. One moment, it captures the fear of being hundreds of stories above the ground, eliciting gasps from the audience; the next, fights are headache-inducing and hard to watch.

The sub-par editing magnifies problems with pacing. Having to suspend disbelief is part of watching any movie – especially one that has more explosions than plot – but there are moments when the audience is forced to ask: “How did he get there?” In one scene, Johnson’s character is at the bottom of a rope, but in the next, he’s at the top, nearly five stories up. It is little moments like this one that pulls the audience out of the story.

Read also: ‘Rampage’: Not the next ‘Godzilla’ or ‘King Kong’

The biggest question it leaves you with, though, is why Johnson was cast in this role. As a result of a hostage situation gone wrong, Sawyer is an amputee. Johnson has proved time and time again that he is lovely as a leading man, but disabled actors get so few chances to tell their own stories, especially in Hollywood, that it is a shame that the role did not go to someone who could have brought actual life experience to it.

Getting to watch The Rock "fight a building" is plenty of fun, but as a whole, Skyscraper leaves its audiences with vertigo. (sul/mut)