Over the last 10 years, Dwayne Johnson has starred in nearly 20 movies. The former WWE wrestler turned mega media star with that million dollar-smile is out to save the day once again – this time from the mother of all earthquakes in “San Andreas”.
Johnson plays Ray, Chief of the Los Angeles Fire & Rescue department. He’s got has a teen daughter named Blake (“Percy Jackson”’s Alexandra Daddario) and a soon-to-be ex-wife Emma (played by Carla Gugino – this is now her third film with Johnson following “Race to Witch Mountain” and “Faster”). She’s getting ready to move-in with the new man in her life man. Well…maybe not.
There’s a parallel, equally important story involving Paul Giamatti’s Professor Lawrence, a seismologist working to come-up with a way to predict earthquakes. Giamatti, one of our best actors working today, elevates what could’ve been just a typical supporting role, pouring his heart and soul into the part. After a 7.1 magnitude quake hits southern Nevada, destroying, among other things, the Hoover Dam, Lawrence and his team determine that an even more powerful quake is coming very soon – The Biggie – along the San Andreas fault line of southern California. And he needs to prepare everyone in LA and especially San Francisco.
Ray and Emma become separated from Blake during the San Andreas quake, and so they must work together to find their daughter, who’s wandering San Fran with a few new friends. The events they have to deal with get crazier as the movie goes on, until finally you’re asking yourself: “How in the world did that just happen?” But – amazingly – practically every situation – even the coincidences – work.
“San Andreas” is one of the wildest movies I’ve seen in a long time. It’s pretty much two hours of non-stop destruction, with brief patches of character dialogue thrown in. And the effects are so good that this is the year’s first lock for an Academy Award nomination in the Visual Effects category.
And yet, “San Andreas” is also largely grounded and surprisingly sophisticated for a big-budget summer blockbuster. Director Brad Peyton (this is his follow-up to “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island”, which also starred Johnson) even takes a risk with a subplot that’s quite heavy for a typical action film. In fact, “San Andreas” is far from your average action movie. Sure, we can allow ourselves to be entertained by a fictitious film that features giant buildings crashing on top of each other and a giant tsunami encapsulating the crumbling Golden Gate Bridge. Maybe it’s the fact that we’ve seen several natural disasters around the world in recent years, and that a tragic event such as this could happen at any moment, that gives “San Andreas” more legitimacy than I expected. Even Johnson’s typical “over-the-top” one-liners don’t seem so “over the top”.
I’m not really sure. But I can say I had a hard time finding “fault” with any of it.
On The Official LCJ Report Card, “San Andreas” gets a B+.
Running Time: 114 min.