UK Release Date: 29th May 2015
Runtime: 114 minutes
Director: Brad Peyton
Writer: Carlton Cuse
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario, Paul Giamatti, Ioan Gruffudd, Hugo Johnstone-Burt, Art Parkinson, Will Yun Lee, Kylie Minogue
Synopsis: A rescue pilot joins his ex-wife to rescue their daughter from a massive earthquake destroying San Francisco.
The disaster movie feels like a genre that has had its day. With the increasing prominence of CGI spectacle across cinema as a whole, audiences no longer need turn to the disaster movie for large-scale carnage. However, if there’s anyone who can reinvigorate the genre, it’s Dwayne Johnson, who has already obtained a reputation for being “franchise viagra”. Step forward, San Andreas.
Ray (Johnson) is a rescue helicopter pilot in LA. He is in the midst of a divorce from Emma (Carla Gugino) and is about to take his daughter Blake (Alexandra Daddario) to San Francisco when an earthquake hits. Ray gets called in to work, but soon has more on his hands when Hayes (Paul Giamatti) detects a shift in the San Andreas Fault. Soon, he is forced to rescue Emma and attempt to track down Blake, who is battling to survive alongside Ben (Hugo Johnstone-Burt).
There’s a real lame-brained charm to San Andreas that helps elevate it above other dumb action cinema. Logic is something that’s in desperately short supply throughout the film, but all involved are content to simply relax and have fun with the material, which mostly consists of people conveniently bumping into each other in the midst of carnage. San Andreas is just a Jason Statham away from being the perfect self-referential treat.
| "If you’re not already dead, I’m gonna fucking kill you."
Dwayne Johnson’s limitless charisma is the undoubted star of the film, imbuing the relatively pedestrian plotting with a real sense of fun. The way that Johnson delivers some of San Andreas’ most cringeworthy dialogue comes with an almost palpable wink to the audience. He knows that what he’s doing isn’t high art, but he’s determined to help us enjoy it.
Alongside him, there’s plenty for Alexandra Daddario to do as Johnson’s daughter. She is initially paired with the delightfully evil stepfather Ioan Gruffudd, but finds her true groove when she runs into bumbling Englishman Hugo Johnstone-Burt as Ben. Ben is next to useless, which leaves Daddario to call the shots as chaos mounts around them.
For all of San Andreas’ silliness, it benefits from some impressive special effects work. The opening sequence, in which Johnson executes a cliffside rescue, is a little creaky from an effects viewpoint, but it’s clear that the ample $100m+ budget was saved for the central earthquake. The spectacle in the second and third acts of San Andreas is nothing short of jaw-dropping as buildings tumble and the ground separates.
| "The Earth will literally crack and you will feel it on the East Coast."
In a world in which even superhero films tend to have some degree of darkness, it’s refreshing to see a film that manfully embraces its silliness. Dwayne Johnson brings his unique talents to the lead role and Brad Peyton conjures up some impressive CGI spectacle. If only it were a little less cheesy.
Pop or Poop?
Brad Peyton’s San Andreas is a cheerful throwback to the golden age of the disaster film, aided by terrific CGI spectacle and the charisma of one of the titans of modern action cinema in Dwayne Johnson.
Alexandra Daddario and Carla Gugino make the best of their roles, with the former getting the chance to do plenty of arse-kicking with her character’s impressive survival skills.
It’s wilfully silly, delightfully fun and spectacular to look at. This is a blockbuster triumph.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.