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An Amputee Reviews The Rock Playing an Amputee in 'Skyscraper'

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Skyscraper” is a movie about a former FBI hostage rescue team leader, Will, who is now in charge of assessing security for skyscrapers. He’s on assignment in China, evaluating the “safest building in the world,” when suddenly the building bursts into flames. Will gets blamed for the fire and has to try and clear his name as well as save his family from the inferno.

From the perspective of someone who has a prosthetic leg, I think the movie did a good job portraying what having a prosthetic is like. But the movie did not nail all aspects.

“Skyscraper” did not focus on Will’s prosthetic, and it came across as irrelevant to the storyline. At certain points, when his prosthetic did appear, it existed just as comedic device. This makes me wonder if they gave him a prosthetic to show Hollywood can be more inclusive, or if it was just a way to add some humor.

We only see Will’s prosthetic when he is putting it on or when it gets pulled off. While having a leg pulled off in a fight scene is pretty neat, it is not at all realistic. In order for anyone, including myself, to pull a prosthetic leg off, they would need to press a button to release a latch. Every time he put his leg on, I cringed because of the sound. When you put a prosthetic on (if you have the pin at the end of the sleeve, which he did) your leg makes a distinct clicking sound when it locks in place. However, the noise in the movie was nowhere near the actual sound. Instead, it had an odd robotic quality.

As someone with a prosthetic leg, I cherish my leg with my life. Yet in the movie, there is a scene where his leg is hanging from a rope and he pulls it inside to put it back on. While everyone in the audience was laughing, I was on the edge of my seat with concern. I can tell you from personal experience that if anything bad happens to my leg, it is time for the waterworks. I depend on my leg; a replacement costs thousands of dollars! But again, that’s not something producers necessarily think of when working on movies that feature a disabled character.

I think it is great to have people with disabilities represented in movies, especially since almost 20 percent of the U.S. population has a disability. That said, if filmmakers want to make the industry more inclusive, they should cast people who actually have a disability. This would add to the movie and make it more realistic for those who have a disability. If filmmakers aren’t going to cast people with disabilities, they should at least consult someone with that disability for accuracy.

I am glad society is finally realizing it should include those with disabilities on screen. I hope filmmakers take it a step further and cast disabled actors in these roles.

Originally published: July 15, 2018
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