Runtime: 114 Mins
What to expect: Family angst, pulverized CGI concrete, not enough stoic mandom
I miss the old disaster flicks where manly men like John Wayne and Steve McQueen would handle their fucking business. Nevermind those flames or impending disaster, adopt the stern face and get on with it. I had stupidly hoped for at least some of that with San Andreas, especially since The Rock is now Hollywood’s leading action man. Fool. This is a sappy girlie man movie, where the lead hero sits up front in a stationary vehicle with his wife, crying over some pitiful anguish from his past. Family anxiety, that’s the name of the game here. This type of shit would never have shown up in a Charles Bronson movie, who, goddamnit, would’ve been stopped by nothing on this earth had his daughter been trapped somewhere. If this was a Charles Bronson movie, the original Terminator soundtrack would’ve been apt.
Anyway, The Rock is a rescue chopper pilot. And when the largest earthquake in recorded history fucks some shit up, he must seek out and save his daughter (ManlyMovie certified babe Alexandra Daddario). Oddly, Alexandra is only 14 years his junior. I don’t know why they just didn’t make her his woman, instead of forcing the third wheel in there, his wife, played by Carla Gugino.
This movie is a database of tired old cliffhanger tropes. The arm reaching out to catch the hand of another human about to plunge untold depths to their death? How about the old chestnut where a central figure has apparently drowned, but is brought, narrowly, back to us via CPR? Oh. Here’s one. The cowardly stepfather who runs a mile when the going gets tough, opening the door for reconciliation between the old flames. Jesus Christ, why would Dwayne Johnson sign onto this doormat of a script?
What this movie is, is a soulless tech-reel. Hey guys, look how much we can fuck up San Francisco, and look how real we made it look! Pulverized concrete amid chaotic noise, with highly improbable events filling in the narrative gaps. It’s sub-par stuff. There are only two good things here. The Rock is fun to watch as ever, regardless of what he’s in and his action scenes are relatively stable. There’s a nice ‘tipping the hat’ rescue sequence that opens the movie for example. And Alexandra Daddario rescues us from boredom multiple times as well, by being an incredible specimen, talking, sitting, or otherwise.
But don’t see this movie, unless maybe you’ve got a ten year old to occupy for a few hours, or something like that. Too much angst, not enough manly heroics.