Skyscraper's Death-Defying Ending, Explained

Skyscraper movie poster header

WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Universal's Skyscraper, in theaters now.

You've seen the trailers, and you've stared at the poster, perplexed, wondering how Dwayne Johnson could ever leap the gap between a crane, and a window of the Pearl, the 3,500-foot tower at the center of Skyscraper. Sure, The Rock is big, almost superhuman, and we're convinced he can do pretty much anything (even run for President), but that jump seemed impossible. So does he make it?

The answer is, yes, he does make the jump, not only because he needs to get inside the building, but also because he's the star of the movie. However, the poster doesn't capture the scene exactly as it takes place in Skyscraper. Instead, it's more of a summary of the entire movie, which isn't about the jump, but rather the lengths Johnson's character, Will Sawyer, is willing to go to in order to save his family.

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It's been established that Skyscraper is a mix of Die Hard and The Towering Inferno, but the film distinguishes itself from those genre classics with its heart. Yes, the Pearl is in ablaze, and yes, there are evil European gunmen after something inside the building, but what makes Skyscraper work is the theme of family. That carries the entire film, from its brutal, horrifying opening to its hopeful ending, which comes full circle.


The opening of Skyscraper is set 10 years before the main story, when Johnson's Sawyer was an FBI agent who specialized in hostage rescue. During a hostage situation in a family home, Sawyer's team intervenes, only to find the father using his child as a shield. Sawyer tries to calm him down, and for a moment, he believes his words ring true. But that's when the real terror hits. The father apologizes, crying, and puts his son down, only to reveal a bomb vest strapped to his chest. Then, to our great horror, the bomb detonates.

A decade later, Sawyer is now a security expert, married with two children. They're temporarily living in The Pearl, a technological and architectural marvel billed as the safest building in Hong Kong, where Will is hired to run a full diagnostics check of the skyscraper's security systems. The Sawyers are of course a loving and supporting family; Will reminds his wife Sarah (Neve Campell) how to reboot her phone when it acts up, and he plays a game with the kids, asking, "Daddy loves who?"

The Pearl in Skyscraper

They clearly have a strong bond, which is put to the test when terrorists attack The Pearl and set it on fire. Will is separated from his family, and he fights tooth and nail to rescue them. Sarah has just as much fight in her, as she proves instrumental in saving her children, as well as her husband. When his daughter is taken hostage, Johnson's character makes sure his wife and son are safe, on the ground. Then, he goes to the roof, where his daughter is being held hostage.

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It's there he finds antagonist Kores Botha (Roland Møller), who's using Will's daughter as shield, echoing the disastrous standoff from 10 years earlier. Thankfully, Will doesn't make the same mistake twice. Instead, he uses The Pearl's unique technology to his advantage: The actual pearl ornament atop the building is filled with glass panels adorned with inside and outside cameras, which can either make the walls "disappear" or transform the surroundings into a suped-up fun house of mirrors. Botha is tricked into believing Sawyer is in front of him, when actually he's standing right behind him. With a simple kick, and the element of surprise, Sawyer saves his daughter's life, and kills Kores.

But father and daughter aren't out of the woods just yet, as there's still a raging fire below. Luckily, however, Sarah is now safe on the ground and, just like Will reminded her to do with her phone, she reboots The Pearl's security controls, which reactivates the tower's fire-suppression system.

Mother and father help save each other, as well as their children, and it's all due to the their family bond. It's what was established at the beginning of the film that allows them to find a way to protect each other.

In theaters now, writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber’s Skyscraper stars Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Chin Han, Roland Møller, Noah Taylor, Byron Mann, Pablo Schreiber and Hannah Quinlivan.

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