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Skyscraper takes the High-rise Thriller Genre to New Heights

If, like most rational people, you have a healthy fear of heights, you’ll need to hang onto your seat for what’s promising to be Dwayne Johnson’s scariest film yet. It’s The Rock vs. metal and glass!

Along with everything you’ve come to expect from a Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson film — the explosions, the one-liners, the raised eyebrow — Skyscraper amps up the action by setting the scene in a (fictitious) 1,067-meter tall building called the Pearl — for reference, that’s taller than the CN Tower, Vancouver Lookout and Calgary Space Needle all stacked on top of each other.

In Skyscraper, Dwayne Johnson stars as FBI Hostage Rescue Team leader and U.S. war veteran, Will Sawyer. Having served his country, Sawyer’s new gig involves evaluating the security of skyscrapers. While on assignment, he moves his family into the tallest — and hypothetically the safest— building in the world in Hong Kong. When the building is mysteriously set ablaze, The Rock must save his family, trapped inside the building above the fire line, and clear his name, having been fingered by police as the arsonist.

In anticipation of watching Johnson scale, sweat and swing his way out of his greatest challenge, we’ve rounded up six of our favourite thrillers set high in the skyline.

1. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

The High: This stunt-rich action classic was shot at the world-famous Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.

In a now-legendary scene, Tom Cruise stealthily scales the tower to infiltrate a server room, using some pretty high tech climbing gloves. Cruise appears to be free solo climbing the sheer face of glass and steel (but don’t worry, he was securely attached by cables that were digitally erased in post-production). Of course, Cruise did this heart-stopping scene himself, without the use of a stunt double.


2. The Towering Inferno

The High: Featuring the legendary duo of Paul Newman and Steve McQueen, this film is set in a San Francisco high-rise that bursts into flames during its opening ceremony.

Acclaimed as the height of 1970s disaster flicks, this classic won three Oscars. It’s not only remembered for its wealth of Newman /McQueen sharp-witted one-liners, it also boasts impressive effects for its time, heart-stopping danger and a whopping 42 on-screen fatalities (that’s the same amount as Scarface)!


3. Gremlins 2: The New Batch

The High: This sequel takes place in the fictitious Clamp Industries building in Manhattan, a setting that quickly turns into a Gremlin playground.

Gremlins 2: The New Batch is a rare case where the sequel to a franchise is even better than the original — due, in part, to the added thrill of dizzying heights. Fan-favourite, Gizmo becomes the guinea pig of scientists and his trusty friends, Billy and Kate have to find a way in to save him.


4. Tower Heist

The High: Eddie Murphy, Ben Stiller and a cast of unlikely action heroes plan to steal back their money from a Ponzi-schemer by breaking into his exclusive penthouse apartment.

Hailed as a triumphant comeback for Murphy, Tower Heist also stars Ben Stiller, Casey Affleck, Michael Pena, Gabourey Sidibe and Alan Alda (as the man who wronged them). The film was shot in the Donald Trump International Hotel and Tower in Manhattan. It plays a key role as a comedic gauntlet-run for this group of low-rent burglars.


5. Ghostbusters

The High: Who’ll ever forget the Ghostbusters’ epic battle against the ginormous Stay Puft Marshmallow Man high atop a New York high rise?

While not all scenes were set there, Manhattan’s Shandor building (55 Central Park West by day) was key to the film. After all — 30+ year-old spoiler alert — it was specifically designed by the evil architect Shandor as a gateway to summon Gozer The Destructor and bring about the end of the world!


6. Die Hard

The High: The pinnacle of high rise movies, beside which all others will be measured, Die Hard is set in the fictitious but now-legendary Nakatomi Plaza.

This Christmas classic sets the scene for John McClane (Bruce Willis at his best) to evade a group of terrorists who take over a building and hold his wife hostage. Fun fact: it was actually shot in Fox Plaza, the corporate headquarters of 20th Century Fox (the studio that made the film).


Skyscraper hits Cineplex theatres on July 13th. Click here for tickets and showtimes.

For an even wilder experience, click here for 4DX tickets!