Skyscraper (2018): Dwayne Johnson and Neve Campbell Rock (Review)

Skyscraper (2018): Dwayne Johnson and Neve Campbell Rock (Review)

Written and directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber (Dodgeball, We’re the Millers) Skyscraper stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (Jumanji: Welcome to the JungleRampage and a slew of other films) and Neve Campbell ( the Canadian actress best known to horror fans as the survivor Sidney Prescott from the Scream franchise).  The film, made on an estimated budget of over $125 million, feels a bit old fashioned despite its high flying premise.

The title structure is in the new Hong Kong and is now the tallest structure in the world. Johnson’s character, Will Sawyer,  is a former rescue team leader who misses a bomb and loses his leg as a result. Campbell (Sarah Sawyer) is a former military surgeon who operated on him, married him and then became the mother of his children.

Sawyer is now the head of a small security company hired to check out the new skyscraper after being given a push by an old pal and former rescue teammate. The family are living in the towering structure and they are the only inhabitants in the entire residential section of the building.

On the day that Will must certify the skyscrape as being safe and secure, a former partner of builder Zhao Long Ji (Chin Han) – Kores Botha, played by Roland Møller, sets the building on fire. The plan is to force Ji to flee with his most prized possession so Botha can steal it.

This plan puts Sawyer’s family at risk as they return from an abortive panda visit and are now just above the deadly conflagration started by Botha and his henchmen.  Cue some heroics from Will and Sarah as they struggle to save the kids (Henry and Georgia –Noah Cottrell and McKenna Roberts who are brilliant in their roles) and take down the evil baddies who are willing to destroy everything to get what they want. 

All in all, the film feels like a throwback to the days of, not just, Towering Inferno with a touch of Die Hard but to a less bloody and profanity filled Hollywood PG-13 action thriller. Skyscraper entertains from its very first frame, however, it is all that bit too predictable to be originally entertaining.

Johnson, who really cannot seem to put a foot wrong lately, convinces and it is a treat to see Campbell play yet another strong female who proves to be the equal of her giant of a husband.  Perhaps the thing that really works is how Johnson manages to stay away from Schwarzenegger territory, despite his incredible physique. The fact that the former wrestling icon can act circle around the former “Governator” also helps Johnson show a more human side.

The cast deliver across the board.Hannah Quinlivan – as Xia – is good as the deadly and rather nasty bit of work who orchestrates a number of dirty deeds for Botha. Byron Mann (Inspector Wu) also convinces as the cop in charge of first arresting then assisting Sawyer and his family. 

Special effects are outstanding overall and the stunts are thrilling enough to impress the most jaded of film fans. Thurber proves that he can do much more than comedy although the script feels almost like a “by the numbers” effort.

Skyscraper pulls in an impressive 4.5 stars, despite the schmaltzy ending and rather bloodless final battle. The effects in the “pearl” are good, although they are a computer screen re-imagining of the old carnival hall of mirrors. The film is worth seeing as it does move at a breakneck speed and one could easily bring the kids and the grandparents to see this one.

The entire film is worth the price of admission for Neve Campbell alone, throw in Johnson and, despite the films few drawbacks, Thurber has a winner here. The actors rock their respective roles and help to make this one heck of an enjoyable experience.

Hide and Seek [Sum-bakk-og-jil] 2013 (Review and Trailer)

Hide and Seek

Written and Directed by Jung Huh this offering appears to be his first ever feature film and Hide and Seek is set against an urban myth of squatters in South Korea who live illegally in homes while the owners are still in them. On top of this myth, is the story of a successful business owner  attempting to find his estranged and missing brother.

The movie starts in a derelict section of town, a woman is talking to her boyfriend on her cell phone as she walks home. After almost being mugged, or assaulted, she says that she can no longer live in this neighborhood. As she gets in the lift, a stranger in black motorcycle gear gets on with her and as the young woman warily keeps an eye on the helmeted figure, she goes into her flat.

Shortly after entering the woman discovers that someone has been in her apartment while she was out. She goes to confront her next door neighbor, the person in the helmet, and this mysterious figure shows up and murders the woman in her own home.

The businessman, who owns a coffee shop/restaurant has OCD and despite this little problem, which he takes medication for, he has a normal family with two children and a wife. He receives a phone call saying that his estranged brother has gone missing and once he hears this bit of information his OCD gets worse.

Seong-soo, the businessman, goes to collect his missing brother’s belongings and tries to track him down. The film is a combination of mystery, drama, thriller and horror. The “villain” in the film is terrifying enough to give the audience nightmares. Not because of their appearance but because of the level of their madness.

One viewer felt that Hide and Seek is a reimagining of Dream Home, but there is no basis for this at all. Dream Home, the 2010 Hong Kong horror film about a desperate woman who uses murder as a way to get around the problem of over-expensive real estate, bears no resemblance to this little treat from South Korea.

There are plenty of nail bitting moments in this 107 minute film and as a first effort for the director it does not fail to impress. All the actors convince in their various roles and the subplot of a brother’s guilt about telling a lie and getting his older sibling in trouble just adds to the tension.

The two small children are excellent in the scenes where they are terrified and the two interact very well in others, so much so that they feel like a real brother and sister. Hide and Seek has several film plots and threads running simultaneously and it is to everyone’s credit that the film never gets confusing.  Great plot, performances and suspense. There are points where the viewer will be on the edge of their seat.

This is a real 5 star film and well worth the effort of watching even for viewers who may not like subtitled films. Hide and Seek is available on US Netflix at the moment.

Citizen Four: Disturbing Documentary (Review and Trailer)

Citizen Four: Disturbing Documentary (Review and Trailer)

Director, producer and cinematographer Laura Poitras reveals her interviews with Edward Snowden after being approached by him when Snowden sent her emails under the name Citizen Four and this disturbing documentary about the whistleblower who shined the light on the NSA and its illegal and nefarious spying on the public in the film. There may be someone in the world who has not heard of Snowden, or Julian Assange or the NSA or the FBI but it is unlikely unless said individual has been living under a rock or in outer space. Snowdon is the American who now lives in Russia, until further notice, and is “the world’s most wanted man.”

Michael Bay Zombie Attack on Set

Michael Bay Zombie Attack on Set

Apparently a zombie escapee from Brad Pitt’s World War Z got lost on Thursday when he wandered onto the set of Michael Bay’s latest set for Transformers four. At least that was how Bay described his attacker on the day.