Film Review: SKYSCRAPER (USA 2018)

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Skyscraper Poster
Trailer

A father goes to great lengths to save his family from a burning skyscraper.

 

Silliness is the order of the day!  Universal Studios has given a $125 million budget to writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber who has been responsible for small films like DODGEBALL, WE’RE THE MILLERS and CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE, the latter also starring “The Rock” Dwayne Johnson.  The Rock has had two recent hits JUMANGI and RAMPAGE.  Is The Rock impervious to failure?  The ultra-silly SKYSCRAPER will put The Rock who plays a one-legged hero, jumper of buildings to the test.

The film begins with FBI agent Will Sawyer (Dwayne Johnson) attempting to save a a man who is willing to kill himself and his son, but ends up with him losing his leg.

Will is now a former FBI agent and amputee.   Will lives in the tallest and “safest” skyscraper in Hong Kong with his family.  The skyscraper itself, known as “The Pearl,” houses several floors that function as their own society, and despite the risks highlighted by Sawyer, who is the building’s head of security, his bosses insist that it is impenetrable.  True to Sawyer’s belief, the building comes under attack by terrorists, forcing Sawyer to take action.  Matters are complicated further when he finds himself framed for the attack, and his family trapped above the resulting fire line.

Among the silliness:

Will hangs from buildings using duct tape.

Will uses his metal leg many times to save the day

Will is able to climb umpteen floors with that leg of his.

Thurber’s written dialogue is just as silly.  At the end when all is over, Will’s wife Sarah tells him “You need a shower.”  “I do” is his reply”.  What a great family,” Inspector Wu retorts.  As the film involves Will also saving his two kids, “Daddy, daddy,” are two words that can be heard repeatedly during the film.

The film is noticeable short of one-liners as Will is more often that not hanging for his life from the skyscraper.

SKYSCRAPER steals shamefully from many other films like TOWERING INFERNO, THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS and most notably, the James Bond film with the mirrors climax, THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN.   The film expectedly contains lots of CGI and pyrotechnics,

The cast includes lots of Asians, obviously to cater to the Chinese market.  Will Trump slap a tariff on SKYSCRAPER?  Singaporean Chin Han plays the skyscraper’s builder, Taiwanese Hannah Quinlivan plays a sexy Chinese fighter (what is it with her hair?) and Hong Kong’s Byron Mann plays Inspector Wu.  The main villain is played by Dane Roland Møller, a terrorist.  Noah Taylor first seen as a child actor in THE YEAR MY VOICE BROKE makes a cameo as a baddie.

Will’s wife, Sarah (Neve Campbell) is not the usual dame in distress, screaming housewife.  Here, she not only speaks Chinese but can fight her way through any number of villains.  The children are the useless screaming ones that need saving.

The script calls for Will to fight both the fire and the terrorist resulting in a divided film which cannot decide which direction to go.  The fire is then as easily put out as the villain dispatched (not revealed how in the review).

SKYSCRAPER is still watchable for the less demanding moviegoer as there is always something happening (silly or not) in very scene.  At the time of writing, of 91% google users liked the film.  As long as one is comfortable at the one legged jumper, able to leap buildings!

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9QePUT-Yt8

 

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Film Review: DEN OF THIEVES (USA 2018)

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Den of Thieves Poster
Trailer

A gritty crime saga which follows the lives of an elite unit of the LA County Sheriff’s Dept. and the state’s most successful bank robbery crew as the outlaws plan a seemingly impossible heist on the Federal Reserve Bank.

Writers:

Christian Gudegast (screenplay), Christian Gudegast | 1 more credit »

 

DEN OF THIEVES is a bank heist action thriller complete with shoot-out, car chase and suspenseful robbery execution, the kind that was popular in the 70’s but is seldom seen on the screen these days.  It is written and directed by German American Christian Gudegast, whose German roots can only be noticed at the end of the film when Gerard Butler curses: “F***ing Fraulein!”

DEN OF THIEVES stands out from the typical bank heist caper as it shows two sides of the coin – the Los Angeles Sheriff Department’s elite unit and the robbery crew, with about equals screen time divided between the two.  The former is led by ‘Big Nick’ (Gerard Butler) while the latter by Merrimen (Pablo Schreiber).  But Merrimen is sure no Robin Hood.

Whose side will the audience take?  When the film starts and the heist planning gets under way and then the execution, it is human nature to root for the robbers, to want them to succeed – especially when the voiceover explains how impossible a heist in L.A. is.  But Gudegast also has Nick utter the words to one of his suspects: “We are the bad guys. We don’t arrest criminals.  We kill them and do the paperwork after.”

Gudegast’s film is by no means perfect but it has it pleasures.  In fact, it is really easy to pick out what is wrong with the film and to dismiss it as total rubbish.  But on the positive side, Gudegast creates a very credible nitty-gritty atmosphere where life seldom, if ever turns out right.  At times, it feels like one is dunked in porn culture, from the strip joints, cheap restaurants and other shady stores (3 suits for $100) that the characters frequent.  But the climax leaves much to be improved.  The shoot out scene on the highway with cars back to back is hardly realistic when one cannot see any bystanders or drivers in the stalled vehicles.  The cops keep shouting to the drivers, stay down, stay down, but when an overhead shot pans the tops of the cars, no person can be seen unless they have really stayed down perfectly low horizontally.  The twists in the plot (not to be revealed in this review) is also explained sloppily in flashback.  There is a clumsy scene set in a London pub, where Donny suddenly spawns a British accent.  The film runs too long at 2 and a quarter hours.  Though one could com pain on the slow segments, these segments actually provide a good breather for the audience to catch their breathe and evaluate the past proceedings.  The insertion of Nick’s family problems is also clumsily insetted, just to provide sympathy for the protagonist.

Butler is ok in his DIRTY HARRY role but it is O’Shea Jackson Jr. as Donnie who steals the show.

The first third of Gudegat’s film works better than the other two thirds with the climax a complete letdown.  But the first third is actually pretty good and an effective and absorbing bank heist planning.  The conclusion is that the flawed film achieves its promised good nitty-gritty atmosphere with some suspenseful moments.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FKd_ks0rdAM

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Happy Birthday: Pablo Schreiber

pabloschreiber.jpgHappy Birthday actor Pablo Schreiber

Born: Pablo Tell Schreiber
April 26, 1978 in Ymir, British Columbia, Canada

Read reviews of the best of the actor:

actorTHE WIRE season 2
Reviews of every episode

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Reviews of every episode. Top 100 Characters

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2008
dir. Allen
Starring
Scarlett Johansson
Javier Bardem

tv POSTERIRONSIDE TV SHOW PILOT
2013
Creators: Michael Caleo, Collier Young