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  Skyscraper Anna Nicole Takes Her TollBuy this film here.
Year: 1996
Director: Raymond Martino
Stars: Anna Nicole Smith, Richard Steinmetz, Branimir Cikatiæ, Calvin Levels, Jonathan Fuller, Lee de Broux, Dierdre Imershein, Charles M. Huber, Deron McBee, Vincent DePalma, Alan Brooks, Gary Imhoff, Bob McCracken, Eugene Robert Glazer, Seth Isler
Genre: Action, Thriller, Trash
Rating:  3 (from 1 vote)
Review: Carrie Wisk (Anna Nicole Smith) is a helicopter pilot in Los Angeles who, er, whisks her passengers around the city skyscrapers. She is married to a cop, Gordon (Richard Steinmetz), who she would like to have a baby with, but he is reluctant since he works all night and she works all day, so he doubts they would have the time to bring up a child. Meanwhile, there are rum goings-on elsewhere in the city as a top secret defence mechanism is being carried in a suitcase to be handed over to some ne'erdowells who have paid a pretty penny for it. The bad guys nearly get the goods, but are too eager to execute the agents handing it over, and one of them gets away - so who has the case now?

All of which is leading up to what became one of the least original action movie plotlines, the Die Hard in a... whatever movie, so while the source was Die Hard in a high rise building, Skyscraper was Die Hard in a high rise building, so completely different then. Well, there was one big difference, and it was the lack of Bruce Willis as he had been replaced by glamour model and reality TV star Anna Nicole Smith, of whom the best the quipsters could come up with was that there were two good reasons to watch the film, and so on. Now Miss Smith is long gone, the victim of a prescription drugs overdose, it's not quite as much fun to lampoon her as it was when she was alive.

Or it shouldn't be, for her life was one of drastic ups and downs which saw her marry an ageing tycoon and become embroiled with a battle over who secured his fortune when he expired shortly after; soon she was posing in Playboy, on TV on her own show, and in a few movies such as this, if you could call it a movie as it pretty much went straight to video everywhere it was released. If you'd attended a cinema to watch this you would doubtlessly feel shortchanged, but even for a beer and pizza accompaniment on a Friday night Skyscraper was not exactly fulfilling entertainment, and much of that was down to the lack of talent on display from Anna Nicole, who wandered through the movie sounding as if Penelope Pitstop had somehow become an action heroine.

Except Penelope was more animated; hearing the star mangle every line with toneless readings and behave more like she was playing cops and robbers with a bunch of kids was embarrassing to say the least, and once the action had been taken to the building of the title it was not exactly pulse pounding, with such intelligence insulting sequences as Carrie taking a little time out from running away from terrorists to recall that time she was shagged in a field by her hubby. What could possibly be the motive for that montage? It didn't take a genius to work it out, and though you had the impression director Raymond Martino and his producers at straight to video action specialists PM Entertainment would have been happy if their leading lady was nude from beginning to end, they did have to roll out a bunch of clichés as well.

That passed for a plot, and to be fair the studio's way with an action setpiece involved better stunt work than many of their rivals in the low budget field, so at least that aspect looked professional, if hard to take seriously as characters are continually surprised by the presence of gun-toting bad guys in their office block when the racket of bullets and explosions must have been deafening. Lifting whole parts of their main influence to be restaged in notably less entrancing circumstances, after a while - a short while - Skyscraper began to come across as a straightfaced parody of the genre, with a foreign accented villain (Charles M. Huber) dispatching his henchmen around the building to seek Carrie and the case she has hidden, only for them to meet their maker just as they have been mowing down the innocents and lawmakers. With a little kid (the star's son) as a baffling reference to The Shining in peril too, mostly this was one damn thing after another: the same thing. You could remember Anna Nicole this way, one supposes, and she might have appreciated that. Music by Jim Halfpenny.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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