The trailer for San Andreas promises a family drama set against a spectacular catastrophic earthquake. Ray (The Rock) is a helicopter search and rescue pilot and his estranged wife Emma (Carla Cugino) is having lunch with Susan (Kylie Minogue), the ex wife of her current boyfriend, then all hell breaks loose. Buildings start falling down, cruise liners are turned over by tsunami tidal waves, smoke and dust fill the streets, Ray’s hot daughter Blake (Alexandra Daddario) is running for her life and then the sound effects really kick in. Lawrence (Paul Giamatti) is the expert, who bespeaks of having a model that predicts earthquakes, and the San Andreas teutonic plates that have moved to deliver a total disaster that will be felt everywhere. The song California Dreaming starts playing as the tropes of the disaster genre are let loose on a public hoping that the Rock’s family survive whilst millions of others perish.
What’s surprising is how well it all works, the character development is perfunctory at best, the script has lines that include “get up against something sturdy” and “we’re going to get our daughter” and “who shall we call? (pause) “everybody”. Holding it all together is director Brad Peyton and his collaborator Dwayne Johnson who seems to grow physically more imposing with every role. Cugino a talented actress in her own right also impresses as Emma. Daddario is clearly there for the pubescent boys in the audience and she equips herself convincingly, as young Ollie (Art Parkinson) suggests at one dramatic point “I really think we should stick with her.”
San Andreas delivers on the promise of its trailer, its spectacular harmless fun destined to make way for other CGI disaster films to follow in its wake. From the cliff hanging opening sequence to the end titles it never lets up, I just wish the script could have been stronger.
“I should have let you in but I didn’t know how.”