Dwayne Johnson is a Helicopter rescue pilot extraordinaire who is trying to keep close to his daughter despite being recently divorced. Oh yeah, and Los Angeles is about to receive the largest earthquake ever known to man Courtesy of the San Andreas Fault. Elsewhere Paul Giamatti reckons he can predict when earthquakes are about to happen, but is it all too late? … Yep.
What San Andreas is, whether it knows it or not, is essentially a disaster movie spoof played straight. We have the ridiculously clunky exposition dialogue, we have the divorced husband who need to reunite his family, we have the new boyfriend of the ex-wife who is the worst human ever, we have the outrageous cgi shots of entire cities collapsing, we have the central invincible protagonist who is an actual god and we have the one actor trying his best to still look credible in what is in the nicest way possible a load of rubbish. It’s stupid on any number of levels but you know what, I had fun.
I will watch Dwayne Johnson in anything, I think he has a genuinely engaging screen presence and he does not disappoint here. He brings all of his natural charisma as well a more tender side. Paul Giamatti here plays the sciencey proper actor trying to look credible and just about managing. Ioan Gruffudd is as horrible as any new boyfriend in these kinds of film and Alexandra Daddario does a decent enough job of being the daughter in distress. All the performances deliver B-movie dialogue as if it were an Oscar worthy production and it’s this innocence that makes it such an enjoyable film.
It’s completely ridiculous and makes no sense. There are major plot twists that rely entirely on gross coincidence and there is very little continuity between events. Any character development in the movie is delivered by word of mouth in conversation and has all the subtlety of Michael Bay. But aside from one scene in which Alexandra Daddario is in a bikini for no other reason than because the makers reckoned the audience would like it, it’s quite an equal playing field between the female and non-Dwayne-Johnson male characters. In fact the character who does the second most saving of people is Daddario.
Where in 2012 the majority of the action sequences were pretty un-inspired and dull, or far too ridiculous and thus un-engaging. I was actually pretty gripped in San Andreas. The Tsunami sequence is actually a really well carried out piece of film. It has proper tense moments and you will notice your heart racing on more than one occasion. And while you could literally write the rest of the film from the opening ten minutes, I still got emotional at the bits I was meant to get emotional at. Of course then something completely laughable would happen and we’d be back in B-movie territory, but every so often there are glimpses of actual quality in San Andreas.
Overall, if you are looking for a good laugh and some Dwayne Johnson. What more could you ask for than San Andreas.