It’s Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson vs. Mother Nature in disaster pic San Andreas, which gives us impressive visuals of destruction and a screenplay that feels like it was written by a computer program. With its 90s action score pounding into our heads, this is essentially a near two hours of buildings and landmarks being decimated. The Golden Gate Bridge has a bad day, as has become tradition in these proceedings.
While millions of people are subject to the earthquakes and tsunamis wrought here, San Andreas concentrates on fire and rescue worker Ray Gaines (Johnson), his estranged wife (Carla Gugino), and their daughter (Alexandra Daddario). Their family dynamic (with Ray’s divorce papers having just arrived in the mail) is the stuff of lazy Screenplays 101. Gugino is now dating a stuffy British real estate tycoon (Ioan Gruffudd). The separated couple is still mourning the tragic drowning of their other daughter and if you think the circumstances in which she perished will be presented to our protagonist again, you have seen movies before.
A subplot involves a seismologist played by Paul Giamatti and he gets to yell warnings to his fellow citizens. This is a good thing because Giamatti has shown since Private Parts that he’s terrific at yelling stuff and it’s fun to watch him do it here.
Most of our time, however, is spent with the Gaines clan as they fly, drive, boat, tandem parachute jump, and bad wisecrack their way to finding each other. The daughter is joined in her journey by a British hunk (Hugo Johnstone-Burt) and his little brother (Art Parkinson) that adds another romantic angle.
Lost veteran Carlton Cuse has sole script credit and I was a bit surprised how lackluster it is. You might find yourself mouthing the predictable lines — “Let’s go get our daughter!!” — before the actual characters utter them. That said, I can’t deny that San Andreas is directed well by Brad Peyton and Johnson is sturdy and dependable as the anchor. This is nothing special but it’s certainly no disaster and is passable enough for a lazy couch day.
**1/2 (out of four)