Chief Ray Gaines (Dwayne Johnson) is a man who loves and lives for his job and his family. A Los Angeles Department rescue-helicopter pilot, his work entails saving many people’s lives, sometimes at the risk of his own. However, his job does come between him and his family and he has now become estranged from his daughter, Blake (Alexandra Daddario), and ex-wife, Emma (Carla Gugino), who is now seeing millionaire architect Daniel Riddick (Ioan Gruffud). Meanwhile a meteorologist, Lawrence (Paul Giamatti), and his team have discovered that a major earthquake is going to hit the state of California along the San Andreas fault, coming to a peak in the city of Los Angeles. Ray has only hours to save his daughter, who is trapped in the city, from disaster.”
As to be expected, Dwayne Johnson is uber-cool and super tough as the leading man, while Paul Giamatti plays the smart guy with a keen sense of professionalism, similar to previous roles in Sideways and The Illusionist (not to be confused with the outsmarted guy role associated with Giamatti in such films as Big Fat Liar and Duplicity). Alexandra Daddario and Hugo Johnstone-Burt play the attractive young love interests, Blake and Ben, who are so sweet they would give you a toothache. Upcoming Irish star Art Parkinson (Game of Thrones) plays Ben’s cheeky younger brother Ollie. The only major mistake in casting was perhaps having Ioan Gruffud as Daniel. Best known for playing Mr Fantastic in Fantastic Four (the 2005 version, not the upcoming film), one cannot help but yearn for him to go super stretchy and save everyone rather than panicking and running around like a headless chicken akin to the rest of the LA citizens.
With 9/11 imagery, a focus on family values and heroic deeds aplenty, this is very much a film made with a ‘Murica, fuck yeah!’ mentality. As the earth ripples, windows shatter and walls collapse, the visual effects are impressive and one really does feel the need to duck at times. However, there is a strange sense of pacing in that a lot happens for what are only a few minutes, and then much of the action is spent recovering from those effects. While this realistically imitates what an earthquake might feel like, it does not have the same gripping sensation that other action movies would have on an audience.
Just as 2004’s box office hit The Day After Tomorrow played on global warming issues that were topical at the time, so too does San Andreas play on the idea that an earthquake with this devastating an impact could (perhaps, maybe, probably not) happen in California – and worst of all, social media and information technology will fail us just when we need them most! The film can be quite silly at times, but it is fun and visually spectacular. A fun day out that teaches you the importance of family and, more importantly, the CGI splendour of which film is now capable .