The Tower

Joining the ranks of unimaginatively titled movies about exciting things happening in tall buildings is Kim Ji-hoon’s The Tower, a romantic-comedy-turned-disaster-epic that starts out like another Grand Hotel imitator before deciding it would rather be The Towering Inferno instead. The main thrust of Ji-hoon’s hybrid—which is already a hit in its native South Korea, where it opened on Christmas Day—is a budding romance between a hotelier and the in-house restaurant manager that gets cast aside when a helicopter crashes into the 108-floor Tower Sky, setting the luxe establishment on fire and causing the usual movie chaos. The deceptively calm first act is by far the worst: Ostensibly comic moments include a small dog being kicked and a newbie firefighter getting tricked into running through the station naked. Once Ji-hoon ditches such goings-on, he and his ensemble manage to put together a passable action flick. As with The Impossible, however, genre thrills bearing a resemblance to real-life events aren’t always enough for engrossing drama. Kim attempts a harmonious union between these two moods at certain points throughout, usually to poor results; even at its best, The Tower is beholden to unearned emotional payoffs. Despite its genuine attempts at proving otherwise, the film doesn’t end up revealing much other than how unpleasant it would be to get stuck inside a slowly collapsing skyscraper—something most New Yorkers are probably already aware of. Michael Nordine

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