Steve Jablonsky’s score to Skyscraper is not your average action movie album, and that makes it special. However, it is let down by less-than-great action elements that drag down the rest of the music. There is amazing in here, but digging it out of the mud is a chore.
The music for Skyscraper has piqued my interest recently, as it is not the score that myself and many others were expecting from Mr. Jablonsky. The film (starring Dwayne Johnson) is a pretty standard action film from the look of the trailer, and so I had hopes for an epic Transformers-y style score from the composer (who is well known in this category).
However, what we got for Skyscraper wasn’t what I expected at all. Instead of a standard bombastic action setpiece we got an emotional rollercoaster that shines at its gentler points. Sure there are a great many action tracks (hence the rollercoaster) but the best parts of Jablonsky’s score lie in his slow and hopeful pieces. Having now read several interviews with the composer about Skyscraper, this musical choice is apparently because the film has a large focus on family and Jablonsky wanted to reflect that in his music. Well, he has certainly done that.
Will & Sarah is the family theme for Skyscraper, and starts off rather simply. The composer uses strings to play a six note theme, and over the course of its four minute runtime repeats those notes extensively. With each repeat however comes more detail as additional strings and drums are added to the track. By the time the four minutes are over, we have a strong emotional setpiece that does a great job of musically representing family as well as setting a very interesting tone for the rest of the score.
This slow, melodic tone is continued in Welcome To Heaven as Jablonsky brings in brass and woodwinds, which cements the feeling of awe and inspiration started by the family theme. This mood however doesn’t last long as the composer moves into darker musical territory with Botha, a track that kickstarts the main action block of the album. The Crane is the main element of this, and it is here that the main action theme of the score is first heard.
Unlike the family theme, this piece is much darker and fast-paced as well as making you feel like you are sat on the edge of your seat. This theme is heard off and on throughout The Crane as well as in Bridge Collapse and various other tracks before the action settles down. In terms of style, Jablonsky’s action music here sounds similar to his Transformers scores in places, particularly Age Of Extinction. I think however that this might just be his signature dramatic sound rather than a deliberate nod to those films. It is certainly recognisable, at any rate. My only issue with this section of the score is that it does sound a bit boring and slightly generic sometimes, likely because it lacks a real thematic identity. The action theme for Skyscraper is solidly OK, and that just isn’t enough to keep a listener interested, particularly as action makes up the vast majority of this score.
Luckily, this doesn’t continue for too long. Georgia & Henry is where the action dissipates, and we are treated to a rather spectacular emotional track that makes excellent use of strings and brass. I have always felt that Jablonsky shines the most in his epic, inspiring music, and that is what we have here. Georgia & Henry is easily the standout cue of this album, but I do feel that is partly due to the musical inspiration it seems to have been taken from the amazing We Have To Go of Jablonsky’s Transformers: The Last Knight. It definitely sounds similar in places. However, this isn’t the only reason this track is fantastic. The family theme of Skyscraper also makes an appearance towards the end, and it makes a wonderful addition to this already awe-inspiring cue. The composer is on top form here.
Sadly however the emotion dies off after Georgia & Henry as the score dives straight back into the duller action music that has already taken up much of the seventy minute runtime. This continues from Reflections all the way to Lucky Man, and if I am honest I really struggled with listening to it, finding myself drifting and wanting to listen to some good old Silvestri action instead. After Lucky Man the composer does somewhat return to the more emotional side of the film with two tracks entitled Skyscraper and The Pearl. Both the family and action themes make their final bows here as the album draws to a close, finishing on something of an anticlimatic end (no classic Jablonsky stare-up-into-the-sky inspiration for us).
Overall, the score to Skyscraper is simply underwhelming. The action music is dull and an absolute struggle to get through at some points, particularly as it takes up the vast majority of the album. Jablonsky has always shined in his epic and awe-inspiring music and it is the same case here, it is just a shame that they come in far too short bursts in this score. The family theme is very good and does a great job of making the listener feel the hopeful emotions the composer is trying to get across, but the action theme is lacking and it really needed to be better in order to make the darker side of Skyscraper stand out.
A good try Mr. Jablonsky, but Skyscraper is just not quite there.
Standout Cue: 11. Georgia & Henry