Thanks to Stardust and RealD 3D I got to see Skyscraper early! I am happy to report that the Demi Lovato song was in no way a part of the film.

Dwayne Johnson is hired to assess the security of a Hong Kong skyscraper, the largest ever built. Stuff happens, blah blah double cross, now his family (including wifey Neve Campbell) is trapped in the top of of the building which is now on fire, and there’s some baddies going after the owner at the top. Now The Rock needs to find a way into this towering inferno to rescue his loved ones.

It’s easy to kinda write this off as Die-Hard-in-a-bigger-building. I certainly get that comparison. I think if you’re gonna rip off an action movie might as well go after the greatest of all time, but just know you’re never gonna touch it. That said, while the setup may share some similarities, there are some striking differences.

The biggest difference is in the style of the action sequences. Most action movies are about big explosions and gun fire and complex choreography. Skyscraper did something unusual. The sequences were built around feats of strength from The Rock, which created a different kind of excitement. Instead of big and surprising, it was a slow burn suspense, which I found incredibly effective. My heart was pounding outta my chest during some of these bits, marveling at his strength and admiring his love and dedication, while very concerned that there’s no way he could keep going. The crowd around me was cheering and gasping and screaming in a way you don’t typically get in these kinda movies. Also worth noting, I’m not big on 3D, but this is the rare film that was truly served by it. It emphasized the dizzying heights many of these feats were taking place at, giving me a sense of vertigo and heightening my anxiety all the more.

The other major standout for this film was Neve Campbell. So many times the leading lady is just a damsel in distress. True, she was in distress, but she was far from helpless. She is one of the smartest women I’ve ever seen in an action film, with tough mama bear instincts that were on par with her super hubby. Most importantly, she was vital to the story. The way that events played out, Mr Rock could not have succeeded without her. Can we please have more ladies like her in action films? Furiosa, Sarah Connor, and Ripley could use some company.

I had fun (mostly because I got to hang with my Stardust peeps). Skyscraper is certainly not Die Hard and it ain’t ever gonna be, but it’s still a good time. I think it fits well into this year’s trend of serviceable but never gonna be classic blockbusters. Popcorn movies aren’t inherently a bad thing, just keep your expectations in check.

Skyscraper – \m/ \m/ \m/

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