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An action movie with diversity -The Asian Age


Skyscraper is a 2018 action-suspense movie starring Dwayne Johnson and Neve Campbell. It was written and directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber. It is the first non-humor movie written by Thurber and his second collaboration with Johnson after the film Central Intelligence (2016). 

Will Sawyer (Dwayne Johnson) is an ex-FBI agent who now assesses securities for buildings such as Skyscrapers. His wife, Sarah Sawyer (Neve Campbell), a doctor, and their two unidentical twins, Georgia (McKenna Robbins) and Henry (Noah Cottrell), are staying in "The Pearl" the skyscraper whose security Will is asked to assess. 

It is based in Hong Kong and at 3,500 feet and 225 stories tall it is the considered the largest building in the world. However, when a terrorist group infiltrates the building it is up to the Sawyers to utilize all their skills to survive. 

I was suspicious too that if this is a movie that is a copy of the first Die Hard (1988), which introduced the word to the famed character, John McClane (Bruce Willis). I have to say that this movie, even if it has elements of such kind of films, is not a copy of Die Hard. For starters, Will is a disabled man of color. 

He is an ex-FBI agent who 10 years prior to the movie's story lost his leg in a hostage situation gone horribly wrong. He wears a prosthetic leg, walks with it, and has started his own independent company. Not to mention, that despite Johnson's tough build Will goes through some tough fights and also gets hurt badly. 

There is vulnerability and humanity to Will that shows that even though he is trained professional he also is an everyman who loves and cares about his family. Additionally, Sarah was in the military as well and has good training. Nothing in the movie aspires to try to be a superhuman feat of heroism. Sometimes, you feel the characters get lucky and rely on their training and intellect to problem solve. 

The cast is also diverse and filled with many people of color. Zhao Long Ji (Chin Han) is the owner of "The Pearl" and also is very intelligent strategist. Ajan Okeke (Adrian Holmes) is his head of security  and Mr. Pierce  (Noah Taylor) is an insurance agent who works for LongJi. "The Pearl" is named so because there is a huge ball like sphere on top of the skyscraper, which houses some really great 3D image mapping. 

This structure is considered the 8th wonder of the world. Long Ji has taken great measures to make sure his skyscraper is safe for any hazard and it even has a security system for the building that is situated some miles away. The terrorists, led by a Kores Botha (Roland Møller), a Scandinavian crime king, and his associate Xia (Kun Ling/Hannah Quinlivan) decide to siege the security systems building and the skyscraper. 

"The Pearl" has opened some of its floors for business and commerce but has not opened its residential areas as of yet. The Sawyers are the only family living in the residential floor due to Will's job as security analyst. Ben (Pablo Schreiber), one of Will's friends, got him the job. The audience realizes that he is working for the terrorists though he wanted Will and his family out of the building. 

Things do not go as planned as Henry has an asthma attack and they need to stay in the building. This is where the action truly begins and I have to say I loved that movie showed characters with disabilities being main protagonists who push themselves through adverse situations. 

Honk Kong's Police Inspector Wu (Byron Mann) also had an excellent performance. He was able to deduce some aspects of the crime. His team was integral as they were assessing the situation. I was very interested that the movie focused on the Hong Kong police who tried to make sure everyone was safe. 

The movie does not initially show the reason why Botha and Xia are seizing the skyscraper and we as the audience get to know much later. Xia's and Botha's violence is however brutal and unforgiveable; they kill countless innocent people just to reach their goals. The calculative way they decide to set the skyscraper on fire and suppress its systems to kill the fire is also insidious. 

One of the most interesting aspects of the movie is that they show the Hong Kong citizens, outside a safe perimeter, looking on in shock as the actions unfold around them. 

The movie did a good service showing how the people are worried for the Sawyers and also what is happening to the building. This is one of the movies I saw where the population is actively part of the script and not just bystanders. They take out their cell phones and they capture but also pray when the Sawyers are in danger. 

Even though it is one family the citizens show that humans may not easily wish evil upon someone random. When Will is doing something dangerous they are literally scared because they know he can easily die and none of this is fiction. They don't treat the fire or the situation as a spectacle. 

Seeing Georgia and Henry try to survive is also amazing. Henry has asthma and even with this disability he runs into the smoke. Though his sister and him have some protection, Henry gets hurt at times, it becomes hard to breathe but he also pushes forward for his family. 

Georgia cares about her brother in those situations. It is refreshing to see children, even though scared, instinctually try to help their parents or their siblings and try to work towards their survival. 

The confidence that Georgia has when she first speaks to Botha actually has him a bit impressed. The movie's message centers heavily on family and the love that family can bring to the table. The unity of that strength is very significant. 

One of the reasons for Ben's betrayal seems to be his jealousy for such a family. He is also a retired FBI agent and though he cares for Will you can see he feels that Will has it all. With spite, he tells him they were in the same accident 10 years ago but Will came out with a wife and kids. What happened to him? He is reduced to work with criminals. The movie also centered on rebuilding life after it seems damaged. 

It wants to highlight on human endurance and people trying to make a life out for themselves after horrible situations have happened to them. It does not disregard individual struggles or make simple disabilities but does show how people try to live with them.

It is not easy and we know we did not completely get to see Will's painful recovery but his family helped. He was not alone and Ben envies this the most. The narrative engenders that people need their traumas and pain to be acknowledged and they need a support system to deal with that trauma.

Overall, Skyscraper is an enjoyable movie with a lot of actions and some good plot twists. It has some violent scenes so it is good for teens and adults. The aesthetics of the skyscraper and its architecture is also a pleasure to see. I do recommend the movie for its focus on characters with disabilities, good suspense and its diverse cast. 


The writer is a Copy Editor at The Asian Age