Synopsis: After a mega earthquake in Cali, The Rock rushes to his teenage daughter’s rescue, helping people and doing cool stuff along the way.
Thank you, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson for the sweet summer treat of San Andreas, a disaster flick that delivers thrills, visual spectacle and a really boss hero. Extra points for the lack of gore — I mean, we want to have fun, not be traumatized, right?
All Americans know about the San Andreas Fault, basically a big vertical split down California that threatens to crack off the state right into the Pacific. But we are unafraid to keep populating the state. In fact, we virtually dare the fault to go seismic by building cities astride the fault. Populating earthquake-prone areas is bad for people but good for disaster movie plots.
Every disaster movie needs a hero and we get a good one in The Rock who plays Ray, a rescue helicopter pilot, seasoned with tours in Afghanistan. He is highly skilled, has nerves of steel and is strong as an ox.
True to the cliches of the genre, our hero has a tragedy in his past. Complicating matters, his ex-wife has a new boyfriend who is really rich and sophisticated. It’s clear to the audience that the former couple still have feelings for each other. They also have a teen daughter who looks about twenty five years old.
In this fairy tale California, all is well (at first) as though the drought ravaged, traffic clogged, forest fire filled state hasn’t a care in the world. But the poor Rock… he wanted to spend time with his daughter but his ex’s new jerk boyfriend flies his daughter up to San Francisco on his private jet.
Meanwhile, the disaster ball gets rolling in Nevada at the Hoover Dam where brilliant seismologist Dr. Lawrence Hayes (Paul Giamatti) and a grad student are testing his new earthquake predicting gizmo. Almost immediately the dam bursts. He heroically screams for the tourists to “Run!” as he waves them off the damn’s roadway. Before long, Giamatti is back in LA hacking into the worldwide web to whip people into a frenzy. He assures the citizenry that this quake will pretty much break the Richter Scale. He tells viewers that : Even though it’s happening in California–dramatic pause– you will feel it on the East Coast. Sadly, he has no special advice beyond Get out now and God be with you. Thanks, Paul. As you’ve probably gathered; his over-acting is brilliant!
The movie paces along briskly, so we don’t have to wait long before buildings are tumbling like drunks at a skating rink. And we have a ringside seat to all of the mayhem because the Rock and his brave ex zip off in a helicopter from LA to San Fran to rescue their daughter. These are some of the conveyances that they might also use on their race northward: truck, plane, hover board, parachute, jet ski, trolley and boat.
No shrinking violet, The Rock’s daughter dodges peril like a pro as she shepherds a valiant yet bumbling 20-something Englishman through the dangerous ruins of the City by the Bay. They are accompanied by the man’s tween brother who acts as his older brother’s id, encouraging him to make sexual advances on The Rock’s daughter.
The piece de resistance (no spoilers, it’s in the trailer) is a tsunami approaching the Golden Gate Bridge. Although scientists assure us that this could not happen, no filmmaker worth their salt would leave the iconic bridge unthreatened. But what chance, I ask you, does a tsunami or an earthquake stand against The Rock?
Cut to the Chase: Great visuals and hilariously earnest dialogue spell summer fun
Comedy Highlight: Paul Giamatti as the seismologist. He tried to warn people, but they wouldn’t listen!