Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is either the smartest man alive or one of the dumbest actors in recent history. He is almost the anti-Tom Cruise. You see, Cruise may not be the most likable actor, but he is a genius when it comes to picking quality scripts. No one wants to like him in any movie, but they can’t resist getting into his movies because of their tremendous writing. Whereas, The Rock is one of the most genuinely charming actors, but his movies are the equivalent of the contents in a garbage disposal.
Yet, through it all, The Rock manages to overcome it all and make up to nine movies a year and still be a solid B list star.
In San Andreas, Dwayne Johnson stars as the greatest Rescue Hero on the West Coast. He has a solid 20 years of live-saving experience under his belt. Everyone looks up to him as the gold standard of heroism. Except for his soon-to-be ex wife (Carla Gugino), who wants him to move on with his life as she is moving on with hers. She is moving in with her new beau (Ioan Gruffudd). The Rock continues to be a disappointment because he has to keep going to work instead of driving his daughter up the coast to start her Freshman year at college.
The Rock, who is patrolling Los Angeles in his Rescue Hero chopper gets the call from ex-wife and decides to throw caution into the wind (along with thousands of lives) and flies to save her from a crumbling rooftop that is in danger of being toppled by other buildings. That is only one of 83 scenes of destruction within San Andreas.
Paul Giamatti plays the least convincing, but necessary, seismologist. Early in the movie, he records earthquakes at Hoover Dam immediately before a large earthquake crushes the dam and kills a few dozen people. From that scene, we find out that Professor Giamatti finally knows how to track and predict earthquakes. He does this by reading seismic waves as they’re occurring and telling someone close to him that there is an earthquake on its way. Keep in mind, there is about a 2 minute delay between predicting an earthquake and one actually occurring. Yet, this movie still perceives him as “the voice of warning!” One character even says that “No one listened to him.” It just gets difficult to listen to a seismologist say that an earthquake is going to happen at the exact moment that the ground is shaking. His only two lines were “This is not over!” and “This is not good.” Repeated ad nauseam.
San Andreas has just as many awkward moments as it does falling buildings. Personal moments between The Rock and Gugino are incredibly misplaced and make you forget that California is falling into the ocean. These scenes are done to force a reconciliation between this separated couple, but it comes off as wooden and forced.
Wait, was I really expecting subtlety in a movie with The Rock and a natural disaster?
You know how in romantic comedies, there is usually a new boyfriend who seems like a good guy until the female lead sees his hot temper and decides to go back to her old boyfriend? This movie skips over any illusion of goodness. Instead the new boyfriend is just a selfish coward who will push people into a tragic situation, just to save his own skin. This is all done so the audience would hope for his swift death.
Besides the heroic parent angle, half of this movie focuses on The Rock’s daughter (Alexandra Daddario), who fights for survival in a destroyed San Fransisco. She is joined by British Josh Hutcherson and Rickon Stark (from Game of Thrones). These three bring the levity to the movie, but manage to all be damsels in distress throughout. I’m sure the producers of San Andreas want you to pay more for this movie in 3D and they forcefully show you the reason. Daddario’s character loses an article of clothing in every scene. The 3D is meant to show off her assets. While director Brad Peyton doesn’t go completely Michael Bay with the overt perversion, he does want you to have something to look at in addition to all the CG destruction in every scene.
Overall, this is an action-packed movie. The end of Man of Steel, Avengers or Godzilla don’t hold a candle to the destruction in San Andreas. Millions of people die, but that’s alright because as long as the Rock saves his family, they can all smile and choose to rebuild. This is the equivalent of electroshock therapy. It will get your heart running and may even be a bit of fun, but as soon as it’s over, you’ve lost some of your memory.
Throughout the onslaught of mindless destruction (to your senses), you will forget every scene. However, you will remember one thing – The Rock is still great. C-