Skyscraper
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Skyscraper

One film general that is almost always guaranteed to turn a profit is the action/adventure flick. Even if the budget was extravagant, in the nine-figure range, it can fail to perform as expected yet still bring a smile to the bean counters in the accounting department. Under the current the current revenue paradigm that encompasses ancillary source as cable/streaming licenses, Blu-ray sales and foreign box office can be quite lucrative. An example can be found in the film under consideration, ‘Skyscraper’. With a budget estimated at $125 million it could be considered a fiscal write-off with a domestic box office of only $87 million. the returns generated only by the foreign market, exclusive of the other source mentioned above, added $240 million to the all-important bottom line. Before getting into the analysis of the movie there is one other pertinent fact. The popular aggregate review site list the audience ranking as significantly higher that the critical community. Although I am part of the later ground many decades as a die-hard film buff has established my allegiance as a fan. ‘fundamentally, ‘Skyscraper’ iis what has become the most common, expression of the genre. It is loud. Flashy, overly dependent on extravagant special effects at the expense of character development and a salient plot. Binding these rather tenuous components together is accomplished by the inclusion of an A-List action star, Dwayne Johnson, formerly known in his WWE career by simply ‘The Rock’. There is not much about the composition of this movie that is original. It is cobbled together from pieces of other offerings in the category. In this specific instance the filmmaker, Rawson Marshall Thurber, targeting a disaster movie like the works of Irwin Allen through the cinematic recombination of ‘’The Towering Inferno’’ and ‘Die Hard’. The movie certainly falls short of its potential, but I prefer to gauge the success of a movie by how well it fulfills the intention of the filmmaker. Based on Mr. Thurber’s curriculum vitae hr demonstrates a predilection for creating movies that are fun, not intended to be dissected.

Will Sawyer (Dwayne Johnson), former Marine special forces is the team leader for the elite FBI Hostage Rescue Team. During a particularly arduous mission, Sawyer was gravely injured necessitating the amputation of his leg. Unable to continue as an active field agent he pursues a new career, running a high-end security consulting firm. His preeminence in the field is established with the introduction of his current client, Zhao Long Ji (Chin Han), a billionaire Chinese tech entrepreneur who financed the world’s most technologically advanced building that is among the tallest ever constructed, the Pearl. Among the many futuristic wonders built into the structure is its crowning achievement, a holographic observation deck. Through the deployment of a myriad of high definition cameras and projectors, the occupants watch as the walls and floors seemingly vanish leaving the suspended 225 stories or 3,500 feet above the city of Hong Kong. Sawyer’s company won the lucrative contract to provide the security during construction. He was helped in obtaining the contract with the help of a friend from the FBI, Ben Gillespie (Pablo Schreiber), Ben is the head of the building’s security. During the work and fastidious checkout Sawyer is provided living accommodations for him and his family, his wife Sarah (Neve Campbell) and their twin sons, George (McKenna Roberts) and Henry (Noah Cottrell). Helping to provide some offset to the general mediocrity of the story is one twist that although not unique is at least workable. During a negotiation the hostage taker exploded a suicide device resulting in Sawyer losing his leg. The amputated limb was replaced with a prosthetic which restored his mobility. Considering this is a high-octane adventure flick and the character was portrayed by The Rock, the instance this plot device was introduced it was obvious that the artificial leg was destined for functions far different from the intended function. In due course it will serve as a bludgeon and to careen down an ad hoc zip line.

As an additional precaution, the security of the building is controlled in an offsite command center. Ji gives Sawyer a tablet that grants administrative rights to all the building’s security measures. This is a glaring example of the over dependence on the audience’s ability to suspend disbelief. A multi billion dollar, ethologically advance structure would not grant full access to everything to basically an iPad that once unlocked could be used by anyone. Also, its control protocols and functionality menus are ridiculously simple to use without the need for extensive training. Of course, none of this is pertinent once Mr. Johnson arches an eyebrow and begins beating up the bad guys while everything around them starts to explode in Real 3D™ and DTS High Definition audio. Every fictional story demand shutting down the higher reasoning portion of the brain to one degree or another but the pervasive banal nature of the fundamental plot elements in this script demands something akin to a lobotomy. Of rationality. This is the core of the discrepancy between the assessment of critics and the audience member. As a critic there is an expectation to consider a film by its cinematic worthiness. The audience typically has a different objective. The narrative is little more than a scaffold upon which the filmmaker, Rawson Marshall Thurber, can hang the numerous action sequences that provide substantially to the income of army of stunt people and special effects artists. As a critic it is east to become so engrossed by the technical details, he to forget that a valid raison d'etre for a movie is to give the viewers an enjoyable experience.

A near universal requirement for a story is conflict, an event to illicit the action that follows, at this point pages from a generic Mission: Impossible style movie is infused in the storyline, Scandinavian terrorist, l\mastermind, Kores Botha (Roland Møller), has suitably nefarious plans to use the Peal in a violent demonstration of power against the establishment. To achieve this goal, he as engaged the services of a team of mercenaries. This is common plot contrivance popularized in comic books an most action flicks, although unoriginal its continued used primarily due to one factor, it is efficient and generally works, the mastermind and solider villains. its most common depiction can be seen in very campy interpretations of comic books battles main villain les. The sixties’ Batman television provides a perfect example. The big bad stand aside as his hopelessly out-matched henchmen fling themselves against the dynamic duo. Botha doesn’t directly confront Sawyer in mortal battle, that is reserved for the climatic dénouement. One of best implementational can be seen un the original ‘Die Hard’ as Hans Gruber’s famous and literal fall from power is shown. The emotional release carefully crafted throughout the film provides an impact able to ameliorate the deleterious potential if very poorly rendered visual effects. To a lesser degree this is a significant factor in why the ultimate assessment of this movie is an entertaining, Saturday afternoon popcorn flick. If possible, this is a movie that should be watched in 3D. although the format has been largely overshadowed by 4K UHD, this movie was originally shot and mastered to experience with the inconclusion of an illusion of depth. The stunt and effects driven fight scenes waged thousands of feet above the busy streets of Hong Kong comes across in a spectacularly entertaining fashion.

Posted    12/01/2018

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