Skyscraper is a 2018 American action film written and directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber, and starring Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Chin Han, Roland Møller, Noah Taylor, Byron Mann, Pablo Schreiber and Hannah Quinlivan. The story follows a former FBI agent who must rescue his family from a newly built skyscraper, the tallest in the world, after it is taken over by criminals and set on fire. The first non-comedy of Thurber’s career, it also marks his second collaboration with Johnson, following Central Intelligence (2016).Filming began in September 2017 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The film was released in the United States by Universal Pictures on July 13, 2018, in 2D and Real D 3D, and has grossed over $301 million worldwide against its production budget of around $125 million. The film received mixed reviews from critics, who praised Johnson’s performance and the film’s suspenseful scenes, but criticized the script as clichéd and too similar to The Towering Inferno and Die Hard.
Wealthy Chinese financier and entrepreneur Zhao Long Ji has funded the construction of the world’s tallest skyscraper in Hong Kong, standing at 3,500 feet (1,100 m) and 225 stories tall, which they call “The Pearl”. Although the building is structurally complete, the construction process has been not without complications and the building has yet to be opened to the public.
U.S. Marine war veteran and retired FBI Hostage Rescue Team leader, Will Sawyer, now assesses security for skyscrapers. A suicide explosion from a previous mission has left one leg amputated, below the knee. He is fitted with a modern prosthetic leg, which keeps his full mobility. Sawyer is tasked with inspecting the Pearl, and his family – wife Sarah and twin children Georgia and Henry move into the building. Sawyer confirms to Zhao, security directors Ajani Okeke and Sawyer’s friend and fellow ex-FBI agent Ben Gillespie, and insurance executive Mr. Pierce, that the building’s fire and security systems are secure, but he needs to inspect the offsite security center that controls the system. Zhao then hands Sawyer a tablet computer that gives full administrative access to The Pearl’s computer systems that can only be unlocked by facial recognition.
While heading to the offsite security center, a thief working for Kores Botha, an international terrorist with ties to many major crime syndicates, attempts to steal the tablet from Sawyer but fails, resulting in Ben revealing that he too is working with Botha so that he can ruin Sawyer out of jealousy, before attacking Sawyer to steal the tablet himself. In the struggle Ben is mortally wounded, and warns Sawyer that Botha’s men will kill him for the tablet before he dies. As he leaves, Botha’s subordinate Xia steals the tablet from Sawyer before infiltrating the security center and killing all the personnel there. Meanwhile, Botha and his mercenaries start a fire on the 96th floor of the building, triggering and activating the advanced computer controlled fire extinguishing system installed throughout the skyscraper. A hacker at the security center then hacks the tablet, disabling the facial recognition and giving him access to The Pearl’s security systems, locking out administrative access to The Pearl to Zhao and his team, as well as disabling all the fire extinguishing systems above the 95th floor, creating an impenetrable fire line that cuts off all rescue operations from below to assist the survivors on the upper floors. After doing so, Xia shoots the hacker.
The local police, led by Inspector Wu, sends a team of officers to locate Sawyer, believing that he is involved with the incident at the skyscraper, and attempts to capture him as he makes his way to The Pearl. Sawyer, knowing that his family is trapped on the floors directly above the inferno, escapes from the police. He makes his way to a construction site adjacent to The Pearl, climbs a crane and leaps off it onto skyscraper, escaping Wu’s team.
Zhao and Okeke send two security guards to rescue Sarah, Georgia, and Henry from the fire, but the guards are killed in an explosion that destroys the nearby elevator, forcing them to navigate through the flames to an upper lobby. Zhao and Okeke, believing Sawyer’s family to be dead, decide to evacuate all remaining personnel on board a helicopter at Pierce’s suggestion, only for Pierce to reveal it to be a trap and that he works for Botha. Okeke and the other workers are killed by Botha’s men, but Zhao escapes and seals himself in his penthouse. Pierce is ordered to capture Sawyer’s family and he attacks them, but Sawyer appears in time to kill Pierce. Georgia becomes separated from her family in the chaos of the growing fire, but Sawyer manages to get Sarah and Henry to a partially functioning elevator. Sarah and Henry use the elevator for a free-fall escape with the plan to engage the emergency brakes to reach the ground safely. Upon reaching the ground floor, Sarah helps the police identify Botha as the ringleader. Sarah then explains to the police that she saw the terrorists carrying parachutes, which explains how they plan to escape from the building, and helps identify a potential drop zone.
When Sawyer finally locates Georgia, she has been abducted by Botha who uses her to negotiate his own escape from Sawyer and force him to capture Zhao. Sawyer is then forced to scale outside the building to a wiring panel to disable the doors to Zhao’s penthouse. After entering the penthouse, Sawyer informs Zhao of his predicament as Zhao reveals the reasons for Botha’s attack: halfway through the construction process, rival gangsters under the control of Botha decide to use their control of construction crews working on the skyscraper to extort millions of dollars in shakedown payments for preventing a massive strike of construction workers, potentially halting its progress. Zhao agrees to the shakedown payments, but not without carefully tracking and recording Botha’s international money laundering scheme in his attempt to “legitimize” the funds he has extorted. Zhao believes that the memory drive they have created containing the money laundering tracking information on Botha, will provide them with insurance against any attempt by Botha to extort money from them a second time. Botha learns of the existence of the hard drive and makes it a personal priority to retrieve the drive in order to destroy it and the incriminating information it contains, because his bosses will kill him if he doesn’t.
Sawyer and Zhao plan to rescue Georgia while Sarah accompanies Wu and several other police officers to Botha’s drop zone, where they engage in a shootout with Xia and Botha’s men. Most of Botha’s men are killed, while Sarah knocks Xia unconscious. Sawyer pretends to hand Zhao over to Botha, only for Zhao to distract him allowing Sawyer to rescue Georgia. Zhao, Sawyer, and Georgia escape to the top of the Pearl, where Botha and his remaining men follow them. Zhao and Sawyer kill Botha’s men, but Botha injures Zhao and takes Georgia hostage. Sawyer attacks Botha and pushes him off a ledge, where Botha is killed by his own grenade and he rescues Georgia.
Sarah finds the stolen tablet dropped from Xia, and discovers that she can override the shutdown of the fire extinguishing system built into the skyscraper, by rebooting the entire computer system. The fire is rapidly extinguished, and a police helicopter rescues Sawyer, Georgia, and Zhao, who tells Sawyer he plans to rebuild the Pearl. Sawyer and Georgia reunite with Sarah and Henry, and the family leaves the premises.