California is hit by a devastating series of earthquakes along the San Andreas Fault, demolishing buildings, destroying bridges, crushing roads and killing people. But there’s one rock that won’t budge (Dwayne Johnson) as he goes to find his family in the middle of the catastrophe.
In the film’s opening we hear the Rock is soon-to-be-divorced and rarely sees his daughter (Alexandra Daddario) a bit like in The Day After Tomorrow and War of the Worlds. Luckily he’s a helicopter pilot and rescue worker with the LA Fire Department, so when disaster strikes he’s able to use the state-owned helicopter to find his estranged wife and daughter (somehow, in the midst of the chaos), even if that involves flying over hundreds of thousands of very needy people to get there. This guy isn’t going to win any awards for his self-sacrifice.
He will stop at nothing to save his loved ones, even if that means stealing a car (it’s already been stolen, we’re reassured), stealing a boat (that probably hasn’t already been stolen) and acquiring a perfectly good plane then abandoning it mid-flight. It’s remarkable that someone whose job is as a rescue worker would take a day off for the biggest disaster in Earth’s history.
The CGI is so all-encompassing that it becomes a challenge to watch. Scarcely a real thing is seen on film. Even the teeth are fake.
This is one of the most ridiculous films I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen Anaconda, Deep Blue Sea and The Core. And while those three films had elements of humour, or were, to at least a small degree, tongue-in-cheek, San Andreas is painfully serious. Even when The Rock and his wife drive vertically up a tsunami in a speed boat, then almost get crushed by an ocean liner, dodging its spinning propellers then swerving around to avoid the shipping containers falling around them, then stop and watch as it obliterates the Golden Gate Bridge.
You can tell it’s made for an American audience, and it’s not just the gleaming white teeth. The two British characters have the plummy, exaggerated accents that plague films like this, and when a US flag is unveiled in the wreckage, more people outside the US will groan than cheer. The only likeable thing about the film is the unintentionally amusing dialogue.’You did good’, a news reported tells Paul Giamatti’s earthquake-predicting scientist. ‘What next?’ Mrs Rock asks hubbie as they survey their wiped-out state. ‘We rebuild’, comes his response, an understatement to match the scale of the disaster.
This is the Transformers of disaster movies. Big, dumb, senseless, characterless, emotionless and humourless. It’s actually very different from the real San Andreas. That only has one fault.