Former FBI hostage negotiator Will Sawyer (Dwayne Johnson) left his job 10 years earlier after losing his leg during a hostage situation gone horrible wrong. However, if it wasn’t for that incident, he never would have met his wife, former Naval surgeon/linguistics major Sarah (Neve Campbell). The couple and their 9-year-old twins are now in Hong Kong, staying nearly 100 floors up as the only guests in the world’s tallest building—a majestic new skyscraper known as The Pearl. Billionaire Zhao Long Ji (Chin Han), the genius behind the high tech building/8th world wonder, hired Will’s small private security company to provide a third party assessment of The Pearl’s state of the art safety and security systems. Once the insurance company receives Will’s assessment, the residential lower half of the tower will be allowed to open to the public.
One evening, while Will is headed to The Pearl’s off-site security facility, some terrorists break into the skyscraper, disable all the safety and security systems, and set the 96th floor ablaze. They are literally trying to smoke out the tech billionaire who is hiding out in his panic room on the top level of the building. Will’s wife and children were supposed to be at the zoo at the time, but now they are trapped inside, on an upper level above the fire. Will desperately searches for a way into the building to rescue his family before it’s too late. At the same time, local police—Inspector Wu (Byron Mann) and Sergeant Han (Elfina Luk)—think that he had something to do with the fire and are trying to prevent him from entering the building. In addition to the brutes inside the building, the terrorists also have the deadly female assassin, Xia (Hannah Quinlivan), who’s working to take out the offsite security station.
What do these terrorists want from Zhao Long Ji? And can Will rescue his family from this looming tower of fire?
At an initial glance, one can’t help but compare Skyscraper to the classic Die Hard. However, while the overall theme may be similar, the movie itself is quite different. The Pearl is a massive structure that dwarfs the Nakotomi Tower—the skyscraper is much more high tech, and a character within itself. It is like a world within itself. Also, in Die Hard, John McClane is systematically executing the terrorists one by one. Skyscraper doesn’t rely on this kind of gore and constant violence. Will has been scarred from the tragic incident that also took his leg, and so for the past 10 years he has sworn off violence and hasn’t even picked up a weapon. He’s not this invulnerable, bulletproof guy—he has a physical impairment with his amputated leg, but never lets that stop him. He’s haunted by his past, and is now forced to confront that to save his family. The excitement of this film comes more with the physical obstacles Will and his family encounter rather than a shoot-em-up with the bad guys (though it does eventually come to that).
Skyscraper is an action-packed thrill ride. While some of the action is of course ridiculous and over-the-top, that’s what ultimately makes it such a fun popcorn film. Dwayne Johnson does what he does best, giving the viewers an action hero they can care about. Will Sawyer’s flaws make him more vulnerable and relatable—he feels like more of an everyman (though with much larger muscles) rather than a bulletproof superhero. Neve Campbell is also great. She doesn’t play the typical meek housewife who waits for her man to save her—she also sees her share of the action as she tries to lead her twins to safety as the flames rise, the terrorists come after her, and things get more and more dangerous.
Universal’s Blu-ray presentation looks quite fantastic, with a crisp, clean picture, but the 4K release looks even better, adding noticeably more detail to faces and textures. Plus, the Dolby Vision really enhances the amber/orange glow of the constantly-raging fires in The Pearl. You would never know that The Pearl is a completely CGI-generated building—it looks so stunningly realistic as it reaches into the clouds, as does the fire that’s blazing across it’s mid-level. The Dolby Atmos soundtrack helps bring the on-screen action to life, surrounding the viewer with the sounds of the crackling fire, winding turbine that powers the building, and any other obstacles Will comes across.
I originally saw this film in 3D in the theater, and while the picture of the 4K Ultra HD release is excellent, I did miss that extra added feeling of danger due to the sense of depth and height that came with watching the film in 3D. I am really happy to see that Universal is also releasing a 3D Blu-ray of this film, and highly suggest those with the ability to view 3D at home pick up that version!
The 4K UHD release comes packed in standard keepcase with a slipcover, and contains an insert with a code to redeem for an 4K Movies Anywhere compatible digital copy of the film. The disc includes over 20 minutes of deleted/extended scenes, and about 18 minutes of behind-the-scenes featurettes with the cast and crew.
4K Ultra HD:
- 2160p / Widescreen 2.40:1
- Dolby Vision/HDR 10
- Audio: English Dolby Atmos, Spanish Dolby Digital Plus 7.1, French Dolby Digital Plus 7.1
- Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
- 1080p / Widescreen 2.40:1
- Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English DVS (Descriptive Video Service), Spanish Dolby Digital Plus 7.1, French Dolby Digital Plus 7.1
- Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
- 4K Digital copy redeemable via Movies Anywhere
Digital HD (for redemption deadline, see NBCUcodes.com):
All of the bonus features can be found on both discs.
- Deleted Scenes (12:07)
Collection of 5 deleted scenes with optional commentary by director Rawson Marshall Thurber. The scenes include an excised side plot, extra exposition, a comparison of a scene shot in two languages, and a fun shout out to Die Hard. Play All, or select from “Opening Park Scene with The Sawyer Family” (2:06), “Dead Body in the Bathtub” (2:02), “Zhao and Pierce Discuss the Fire in The Pearl” (3:14), “Wu & Han Discuss Will Sawyer”—Cantonese and English (4:05), and “Try Hard” (:42)/li>
- Extended Scenes (10:17)
Collection of 5 extended scenes with optional commentary by director Rawson Marshall Thurber. The director provides explanations each scene and why it was ultimate trimmed from the final cut. Play All, or select from “Farm House Opening” (6:35), “Bag Steal” (1:11), “Xia Blows Up The Off-Site Facility” (:27), “Park Fire with Boiling Water” (1:06), and “Sand Barge Shootout” (1:00).
- Dwayne Johnson: Embodying a Hero (4:04)
The cast and filmmakers talk about working with Dwayne Johnson, and his character of Will Sawyer. Includes behind-the-scenes footage, and interviews with writer/director/producer Rawson Marshall Thurber, producer Hiram Garcia, and stars Dwayne Johnson (“Will Saywer”/Producer), Neve Campbell (“Sarah Sawyer”), McKenna Roberts (“Georgia Sawyer”), and Noah Cottrell (“Henry Sawyer”).
- Inspiration (4:12)
The cast and filmmakers talk about having an amputee as the lead character of an action film, and working with motivational speaker Jeff Glasbrenner, who served as Dwayne Johnson’s inspiration and consultant. Includes behind-the-scenes footage, and interviews with Jeff Glasbrenner, director writer/director/producer Rawson Marshall Thurber, producer Beau Flynn, and stars Dwayne Johnson and Neve Campbell.
- Opposing Forces (2:35)
The cast and filmmakers talk about some of the film’s fight scenes, and what the actresses did to prepare for their roles. Includes behind-the-scenes footage, and interviews with Neve Campbell, Hannah Quinlivan (“Xia”), Dwayne Johnson, writer/director/producer Rawson Marshall Thurber, and supervising stunt and fight coordinator Allan Poppleton.
- Friends No More (3:21)
The cast and filmmakers talk about filming the big fight scene between Will and ben. Includes behind-the-scenes footage, and interviews with writer/director/producer Rawson Marshall Thurber, supervising stunt and fight coordinator Allan Poppleton, second unit director JJ Perry, and stars Dwayne Johnson and Pablo Schreiber (“Ben”).
- Kids in Action (2:40)
The cast and filmmakers talk about casting the Sawyer children, working with the young actors, and doing the stunt scenes. Includes behind-the-scenes footage, and interviews with writer/director/producer Rawson Marshall Thurber, producers Hiram Garcia & Beau Flynn, supervising stunt and fight coordinator Allan Poppleton, and stars Noah Cottrell, McKenna Roberts, Dwayne Johnson and Neve Campbell.
- Pineapple Pitch (1:38)
Dwayne Johnson and writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber talk about how the film came about, and the unique way that Johnson confirmed he was in.
- Feature Commentary by Director Rawson Marshall Thurber (1:42:24)
The writer/director provides an entertaining and informative commentary throughout the film. He starts off by talking about his inspirations for the film—the cold open of Cliffhanger as well as films like Die Hard and Towering Inferno—and the process for getting the film green-lighted. He compares the process of making a comedy film with that of making an action film, and provides lots of interesting behind-the-scenes stories about the production, the design of The Pearl, working with ILM on the special effects, and more. You can really sense the director’s excitement and love of film and filmmaking.
Skyscraper is just a really fun popcorn action film. Dwayne Johnson is excellent, giving viewers an action hero with personality and heart. He’s just a man trying to save his wife and children from a burning building while fending off a group of terrorists, and he will stop at nothing to get them back safely. Universal’s 4K Ultra HD release looks and sounds amazing, and the discs include a solid selection of bonus material. This release comes highly recommended for anyone looking for a entertaining action film that you don’t have to think about too much and can just sit back and thoroughly enjoy.