One line summary: Technically brilliant, solid remake of 1974's The Towering Inferno.
The film opens to the apartment of single father Dae-ho and his pre-teen daughter Hana. The weather prediction for Christmas is for above normal temperatures and no snow. Dae-ho tells Hana there will be snow, and makes it a promise. It's not a safe bet promising a child something for which you have no control.
There's a big cast, with several story threads. There are the members of the fire department, including a new recruit, and a group of weary veterans. The cooking staff gets quite a few frames. There are representative inhabitants of the towers, families and businesses, and those who interface between tower management of the clients. There is a lot of money invested in the Tower, and a lot of liquidity used to keep it going.
Early on, hanging weaknesses are made clear: some pipes had frozen, and sprinklers between floor 60 and floor 80 were rendered inoperable. The discoverer was told to re-prioritize on the Christmas party. A second group brings up an issue with the chairman of the managing company: there is a danger of a sudden updraft near the Tower. This would make helicopter flights near the Tower more risky. The Chairman asks to be put in touch immediately with the Commissioner of the relevant regulatory agency.
Dae-ho and his co-worker Yoon-hee have a number of interactions. When Hana appears to be unhappy, Yoon-hee helps Dae-ho out.
During the evening celebration, there are fireworks and helicopters flying nearby to provide a simulated snowfall. It all looks rather nice. People in and near the Tower are quite impressed. Hana is really happy that Dae-ho's promise came to pass.
However, the updraft problem manifests, and a couple of the helicopters go out of control, resulting in crashes into the Tower. A fire starts an spreads rapidly. The other hanging weakness falls, since the fire started in levels between 60 and 80, where the sprinklers are blocked.
Just about anything that can go wrong, does go wrong. There's a fire in the elevator well. Some of the elevators do not work. There is no way out for many. By chance, Yoon-hee and Hana are together, and they get rejected from riding the elevator in the well with the fire. Yoon-hee's observation and quick thinking save them when the fire bursts open the elevator door.
The various story lines follow characters through the fires, falling architecture, rescue attempts, and difficult decisions made in trying circumstances. Who will survive? Will the idiots who set up the conditions that led to the disaster be taken to account?
Cinematography: 10/10 Excellent.
Sound: 6/10 Incidental music is florid, hyperbolic.
Acting: 8/10 Well done for most characters in a big cast. A small minority were remarkably bad.
Screenplay: 8/10 Combines a number of easily recognizable human traits: stupidity, avarice, cutting corners, courage, self-sacrifice, heroism. The exposition was good for the many difficult situations the characters faced.
SFX: 10/10 Impressive.