Ray (Johnson) is a rescue helicopter pilot who is getting divorced from his estranged wife, Emma (Gugino) and discovers that she and their daughter, Blake (Daddario), are moving in with Emma’s new boyfriend, Daniel Riddick (Gruffudd). No sooner has this bit of exposition been provided than the big one hits, causing tremors that are the highest ever recorded on the Richter scale.
The usual devastation occurs, ripping California in two, and Ray has to rush to save his wife from near certain death – and a lunch from Hell with Kylie Minogue – before steering his chopper towards San Francisco to save Blake, who has been abandoned by Riddick.
While this is all going on, local seismologist, Lawrence (Giamatti), acts as a portent of doom as he warns the western seaboard, and in particular San Francisco, that the worst is yet to come. Of course, Lawrence knew this was going to happen all along but the powers that be have ignored his warnings.
Ray’s chopper crashes en route and so he and Emma have to find an alternative mode of transport to get to San Francisco, but it appears that Blake is more resourceful than they realised, grouping together with a couple of English brothers to survive the mini-apocalypse.
So how does this disaster movie fare? Fair to middling.
Firstly, as a disaster movie, the money spent has to be up there on the screen. After all, we are used to CGI being used to provide us with eye-popping spectacle. Yet San Andreas seems unsure how far it wants to take it. Apart from the Golden Gate Bridge, there is a lack of major landmark destruction. This is in turns refreshing and slightly galling. The fact that the bridge scene is also the moment where the film jumps the shark – or a tsunami to be specific – cannot be lost on the viewer.
Another annoying issue is that Johnson is able to take a rescue chopper for the sole purpose of saving his own family when there are countless other victims that could use his help. Pretty sure his superiors are going to be docking his pay for that.
Johnson once again proves himself to be family friendly in an era where his fellow colleagues from his wrestling past seem to easily succumb to horror roles and Daddario, Gugino and even the English characters don’t grate too much. They’re actually likeable, although a shoehorned backstory about another daughter who died feels like it was only put in there to set up a certain scene later in the movie.
As a disaster movie, it ticks most of the expected boxes as well as the required clichés, but it stops short of being bombastic enough to warrant repeated viewings.
SAN ANDREAS / CERT: 12 / DIRECTOR: BRAD PEYTON / SCREENPLAY: CARLTON CUSE / STARRING: DWAYNE JOHNSON, CARLA GUGINO, ALEXANDRA DADDARIO, PAUL GIAMATTI, IOAN GRUFFUDD / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW