Sky High Movie Review: A flat, even if flashy, crime drama
The Spanish film, despite having plenty of characters and subplots, is never sure what it really wants to be
What’s the most enjoyable aspect of an open-world game? More than the storyline and the tasks, the real joy lies in the virtual freedom the game offers: the freedom to drive cars at breakneck speed, explore the world in an unrestricted way, perhaps even perform crimes, and manage to get away. However, what if your haphazard, indulgent virtual tour turned out to be a film? That’s what Sky High feels like.
From omnipresent light-flares and eye-catching colors to high-speed automobiles and electronic music, the film’s ultra-stylish exterior bears a strong resemblance to video games. This is only amplified by the caricaturish characters who are always on the run. The frustration here though is you are not a controller; you are a mere spectator. For lack of a joystick with which to control proceedings, you are never able to steer these characters towards more exciting paths.
A young Angel (Miguel Herran) is brimming with the desire to move from the streets of Madrid to the high-rise buildings, the latter becoming a metaphor for his aspiration to climb the social ladder. Angel is smitten by Estrella (Carolina Yuste), the girlfriend of a local gangster Poli (Richard Holmes), and expectedly, the two come to blows. You may expect the film to take the route of This Means War, a film in which two alpha males wage war over a woman. However, there’s no such action, even of the garden variety, with this film, which mistakes flashy visuals for engaging storytelling. Barely a scene later, Poli and Angel are shown to join hands for a robbery, and this transition in their dynamic is baffling, and it’s even worse that this goes on to serve as a foundation for ensuing drama.
The screenplay is reminiscent of video games as well. Every time the film shifts its geographical setting, we foresee the beginning of a new mission. Halfway through the runtime, the film’s identity crisis kicks in. As heists and robberies take a step back, relationships take centrestage. It’s a film that never seems to be able to make up its mind on what it wants to be. Ultimately, it ends up being a film that bites way more than it can chew, and as a result, you get an array of mediocre villains and a number of subplots that fail to add any depth.
Towards the end, when Angel finally makes it to the high-rise building, there is a callback to the film’s opening moments, but you are indifferent to his struggles and successes, and his story as a whole. It’s a story that spans three years over the course of its two-hour runtime, and yet, the pacing is sluggish. Sky High should have been far more fun.