A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Skyscraper is an intense action-disaster movie starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson that plays like a cross between The Towering Inferno and Die Hard. Violence/suspense is definitely the main concern: Expect lots of guns and shooting, knives, explosions, some bloody cuts and wounds, and character deaths (mostly quick and bloodless). The main character removes a shard of impaled metal from his body and dresses the wound himself. Children are in peril throughout most of the story. Language includes a use of "f--k" and a few uses of "s--t," but sex and substance use aren't issues. There are a few expertly crafted scenes of heart-stopping suspense, but they're surrounded by plenty of ridiculous, shallow, ineffective material. Still, viewers who don't mind waiting for the good parts may be entertained.
What's the story?
In SKYSCRAPER, Will Sawyer (Dwayne Johnson) is a former FBI hostage rescuer who lost his leg in an explosion. Now married to his surgeon, Sarah (Neve Campbell), and dad to two kids -- twins Georgia (McKenna Roberts) and Henry (Noah Cottrell) -- Will works in security. He hopes to land a job in Hong Kong, for Zhao Long Ji (Chin Han), who's constructed the world's tallest building, "The Pearl." Just as Will determines that the building's fire safety measures work, a band of mercenaries breaks into the building and starts a fire, disabling the security. Will's family wasn't supposed to be there, but they got back early from a trip to the zoo, and now Will must rescue them. But before he can do that, he has to save his daughter from the bad guys.
Is it any good?
This action movie has about four gripping sequences of heart-pounding suspense, but they're surrounded by too much ridiculous, ineffective stuff; stressful scenes of kids in peril tip the balance. A cross between The Towering Inferno and Die Hard, Skyscraper is at least a manageable 102 minutes long, but at the same time, it's slow to get going. It spends too much time setting up the plot mechanics -- the origin of Will's artificial leg, the gimmick of rebooting a phone, Henry's asthma, etc. -- and not enough in letting us get to know the characters.
Johnson is a likable enough star, but he's basically superhuman here -- far from Bruce Willis' "ordinary guy" in Die Hard -- and it doesn't feel like much is at stake. Skyscraper goes a little too far in putting Will's kids in jeopardy, but we never really question whether everything is going to be fine. The bad guys, including a couple of predictable good-guy turncoats, are bottom-drawer, the kind who simply try to out-cool one another by saying their lines in low rumbles and adding lots of pauses. And it must be noted that the movie has more than a hint of "white savior" syndrome. Viewers willing to slog through the bad stuff to get to the good stuff will likely enjoy the suspenseful moments, but there are far better examples of this kind of movie.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Skyscraper's violence. How does the general lack of blood and consequences affect its impact? Which bothers you more: violence with fighting and weapons or suspenseful scenes? Why?
During the scenes that show children in peril, is the suspense enjoyable or stressful? Does the movie go too far? Not far enough?
What's the central family relationship like? Does it feel like a real family? Why or why not?
What's the appeal of big action/suspense movies like this one and Die Hard?
Is The Rock a role model in real life? How does that affect your opinion of his movie characters?
- In theaters: July 13, 2018
- Cast: Dwayne The Rock Johnson, Pablo Schreiber, Neve Campbell
- Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 103 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sequences of gun violence and action, and for brief strong language
For kids who love action and thrills
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.