Skyscraper (1996)
Skyscraper (1996)

Genre: Action Running Time: 1 hr. 36 min.

Release Date: July 24th, 1996 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Raymond Martino Actors: Anna Nicole Smith, Richard Steinmetz, Branko Cikatic, Calvin Levels, Jonathan Fuller, Lee de Broux, Deirdre Imershein, Charles Huber, Deron McBee, Vincent DePalma

 


 

C

arrie Wink (Anna Nicole Smith), a Heliscort company helicopter pilot with curiously long, fake red nails (and bright lipstick to match), lands on the roof of a building to pick up a client. Flying across downtown Los Angeles, she ferries businessmen back and forth across the city, periodically calling into her control center for coordinates, safety information, and upcoming jobs. Her latest task is to drop off Mr. Booker (Alan Brooks) for a meeting, though she has no idea that he’s an arms dealer who carries a briefcase with one piece of a state-of-the-art missile guidance system. During an alleyway exchange with government officials, heavily-armed terrorists ambush the conclave, launching rockets into the convoy and gunning down all of the black-suited agents. It’s an action-packed scene, boasting massive explosions and plenty of bullets – yet the filming and editing leave a bit to be desired, despite some creative destruction.

“I want a baby!” Perhaps the most glaring problem with “Skyscraper” isn’t its generic plot or its uninspired interactions. It’s the acting, headed up by Smith, that is so obviously mediocre. Her performance is far from convincing, but it’s her high-pitched, whiny voice that proves to be truly grating. Of course, she wasn’t cast for her theatrical skills; after her introductory scene in the chopper, she takes a nice, long shower, allowing the audience to get an eyeful of her gigantic breasts. This is followed by a sex scene, which shows off additional bits of flesh. The intermittent spurts of dialogue are pitiful at best, and Smith’s deliveries make them just that much worse.

Carrie’s husband, LAPD Detective Gordon Wink (Richard Steinmetz), along with his partner Jimmy (Clay Banks), is tasked with investigating the alley shootout; but before he can even get there, he’s diverted to a break in at a Zitex laboratory, helmed by ex-military mercenary Zarkov (Branko Cikatic). Coincidentally, Carrie ends up transporting in her copter the Shakespeare-spouting, South African revolutionary Fairfax (Charles Huber) – the mastermind behind the terror plot – whose ultimate destination is the Zitex Corporation skyscraper, where he can obtain the fourth piece of the weapons system.

The premise isn’t too far removed from “Die Hard.” Additionally, the use of multinational villains – some with long hair and exposed muscles – bears a striking resemblance to the aforementioned film. But here, the accents are conspicuously varied and, occasionally, ludicrously comical. The eventual takeover of the skyscraper creates a few opportunities for kung fu combat, further gunfights, and hostage scenarios – again, not unlike in “Die Hard.” Copying other successful actioners certainly isn’t surprising, but some of the derivations in “Skyscraper” are disgraceful – from the conduct of the invaders, to their demands and phony motives, to a few very specific stunts. “Some people are trying to kill me.”

Also fueling the silliness is a bodyguard who keeps getting up to continue a handgun duel, even after being shot repeatedly, dancing to the rhythm of the absorbed bullets, and collapsing; a goofy, comic-relief security guard (Gary Imhoff) who pretends to be tough; extensive melees with random maintenance workers; and the antagonists’ continual insistence upon striking sinister poses and using overkill to dispatch everyday citizens. There’s also a mid-movie, flashback sex scene, ostensibly included to demonstrate Carrie’s proficiency with shooting, but clearly orchestrated to reveal her hefty bosoms yet again. Even a sexual assault sequence later on proves to be designed purely for extra nudity.

At least the movie features a handful of impressive stunts, ranging from fire-based shots to considerable falls (a laughable amount of people tumble from high places) to bodies thrown from detonations. It’s disappointing, however, that Carrie isn’t the same level of self-sufficient and heroic as John McClane; she’s routinely aided by convenient men. Amusingly, however, she’s the one who goes back to free the hostages when her cop husband isn’t up to the task; and she’s also the one to engage in a climactic brawl with Fairfax. But most satisfying of all is the fact that she isn’t afraid to execute a goon or two when they’re being mouthy or disagreeable.

– Mike Massie

  • 3/10