TAUT “SKYSCRAPER” ROCK SOLID THRILLS; “TAKE TWO” ON TV
A Film and TV Review by Tim Riley
“SKYSCRAPER” (Rated PG-13) The popularity of likable action star Dwayne Johnson should carry most of his films and “Skyscraper,” at least to his fan base, proves to be no exception. It’s basically robust, wild and crazy fun based on an improbable premise. No matter the role, Johnson is an indestructible hero. His Will Sawyer, U.S. war veteran, and former FBI hostage rescue team leader specializes in security assessments of skyscrapers and lands an assignment to appraise the world’s tallest building in China.
The story begins with a flashback to ten years before when Will Sawyer suffers grievous physical harm that ends his career in law enforcement. During a hospital stay, he meets with future wife Sarah (Neve Campbell), a talented Navy surgeon who saved his life. Now married and with young twin children, Will ends up at the skyscraper with his family only a temporary stay while he starts his evaluation for billionaire visionary Zhao Long Ji (Chin Han) who has created the marvel of a prototypical city in a building 225 stories in height.
Compromised by betrayals, Will finds himself on the lam when the fire breaks out on the 96th floor and he’s targeted as the prime suspect though no one bothers to ask why he would leave his danger with deliberate sabotage of the fire suppression system. Framed for setting the building ablaze, Will has to find the responsible parties, clear his name and somehow save his wife and kids trapped inside on an unoccupied floor above the fire line. It’s a tall order and a lot of duck tape becomes one useful tool.
The bad guys are generic Eurotrash in a mercenary crew led by wanted criminal and overall nutjob Kores Botha (Roland Moller), deadly and revenge-driven but not as villainous as his accomplice Xia (Hannah Quinlivan), an assassin with a nasty mean streak. Writer and director Rawson Marshall Thurber are described in the press notes as delivering the juggernaut of “Die Hard” meets “Towering Inferno” set in Hong Kong. The “Mission Impossible” franchise should be tossed into the mix as well.
Regardless of any inspirations, “Skyscraper” showcases Will’s incredible death-defying moves when hanging high in the air outside the building while onlookers below express the awe we are supposed to feel. We delight in Dwayne Johnson’s innate ability to take us along for a thrill ride, even one that strains all credulity. His fierce determination results in the kind of rousing, relentless action that should be just good enough for the summer fun of “Skyscraper.”
Derided by some as a forgettable “disaster flick,” no doubt “Skyscraper” will be overlooked during awards season unless there’s a category for cliffhanging action. The aim of “Skyscraper” is for tasty popcorn entertainment and that it delivers in a gargantuan bucket of rock-solid thrills.
“TAKE TWO” ON ABC NETWORK
The summer TV schedule is typically filled with new shows on cable and plenty of reality and documentary-type shows on both cable and network. The big four major networks, ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX, usually hold off until the Fall season to launch new series, but there are always exceptions. ABC fills the void this summer with “Take Two.”The ABC long-running series “Castle” was popular. Nathan Fillion played the titular character, a mystery novelist who tagged along with reluctant NYPD detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) and often meddled in cases with his opinions.
In a gender twist, “Take Two” has similarities in that private eye Eddie Valetik (Eddie Cibran) is put in the tight spot of having the unwanted shadow of Sam Swift (Rachel Bilson), the former star of TV cop series, tailing his every move. On a condition of parole, the unemployed Sam fired from the series “Hot Suspect” and freshly out of rehab, teams up with the disinclined Eddie to remain under his watchful eye even though the last thing he needs is an inquisitive nuisance.
If you are most likely thinking that the similarities between “Castle” and “Take Two” is eerily parallel, it may not surprise that Andrew W. Marlowe is the creator of both series. Recycling story formulas are nothing new in both television and film. The big question is whether these two crime-solving disparate characters, much like Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd in “Moonlighting,” are engagingly fun to watch in their inevitable quarrels and sarcastic banter.
So far, every time that Eddie cautions Sam to be invisible and not get involved, these admonitions are predictably ignored by the actor who gleans all of her theories from years of solving fictional crimes. Midway into the second episode, one observation from Eddie sums up a feeling that might even be shared by the audience. Asked how it is going in working with Sam, Eddie replies that it’s like “a circus that never leaves town.”
In an obvious marketing ploy, “Take Two” episodes, at least in the initial going, feature an ad for the upcoming Fall series “The Rookie” starring Nathan Fillion. Is this a wink to the viewers about the connection to “Castle?”