See It Instead: Skyscraper.
Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson is back to battle a blazing building, but we have three alternatives to fire you up.
First things first: no Diehard. You already know it’s the best movie out there if you want high-rises and heroics. If you haven’t heard this movie exists and basically shares the same DNA with Skyscraper, I’ve got nothing for you. Well, actually, I’ve got three things for you. Three disaster movies that share an element with the Rock’s latest film, Skyscraper. Because that’s how this article series works. Just no Diehard. Deal with it.
Will Ford (Dwayne Johnson) is a war veteran who uses his extensive training to ensure the security of high profile buildings. He’s put under the ultimate stress test when his latest client is attacked by a business rival. Ford is blamed for the attack, and must clear his name while also trying to rescue his family from the fiery skyscraper. Yippy kay yay.
The Serious Pick: The Towering Inferno (1974)
Architect Doug Roberts (Paul Newman) visits his latest project, the Glass Tower. At 138 floors, it is the largest building on Earth…and a Titanic sized recipe for disaster. Botch wiring caused by the sleazy son of the building’s owner cause a fire on the 81st floor. With events quickly spiraling out of control, the police captain on scene (Steve McQueen) recruits Roberts to help him stop the blaze and rescue the people trapped above the fire-line.
If Skycraper got its action genes from Diehard, then it got its disaster genes from The Towering Inferno. This is the Ur disaster movie, a film so iconic that people have pretty much left the “giant burning skyscraper” genre untouched. Besides being a rousing disaster flick, it’s also a fantastic movie. The cast is incredible, and the film was nominated for 8 Oscars. Including best picture. Do you think Skyscraper is going to get nominated for best picture? Fat chance! I guess you know which movie you should see instead then.
The Lighthearted Pick: It’s a Disaster (2013)
Two couples engaged in a yearly brunch date they all secretly hate discover that some unknown calamity has cut them off from humanity. While they wait for a chronically late third couple or news, they devolve into petty squabbles and the airing of dirty laundry. Once word finally arrives that all hell is breaking loose, the frantic foursome indulge their paranoia, each one trying to prepare for their preferred version of the apocalypse.
This dark comedy made the rounds at the indie awards circuits but didn’t find a much wider market. That’s a shame because the cast is solid and the script is very adept at skewering both end of the world movies and odd couple rom coms. The humor is varied, from the schadenfreude of watching nasty people destroy each other to the sheer stupidity of their plans. Think of It’s a Disaster as a smarter, less bombastic version of This is the End, without having to put up with Seth Rogen.
The Unconventional Pick: The Raid (2011)
A rookie SWAT officer watches in horror as his superiors are obliterated while infiltrating a high-rise building infested with criminals. Caught halfway up, Rama must take charge and guide the remaining officers to the top. Only by taking down the vicious crime-lord Tama can the cops hope to stop the bloodshed and get out of the building alive.
The Raid is an instant classic for fans of action and martial arts. The fights are gorgeous and brutal and frequent. Director Gareth Huw Evans is also a choreographer and it shows. Each shot and sequence delivers maximum impact, and the pacing is relentless. Be warned that this film holds nothing back and is not for the squeamish. It spawned a sequel and a legion of imitators, but stick to the original for the best bang for your buck.