Following the death of their daughter, Ray (Dwayne Johnson), a rescue-chopper pilot finds himself falling deeper into his job saving as many people as possible. When the San Andreas Fault causes a massive shift, it result in a massive earthquake that destroys everything in its path, Ray, along with his estranged wife Emma (Carla Gugino) must venture through the wreckage to save their only surviving daughter Blake (Alexandra Daddario) from any further peril. But what the family doesn’t know is that the quake was just the beginning of the nightmare.
Throughout the years, there have been several films depicting earthly disasters. Many have which have failed on massive scales (I’m looking at you 2012). When the trailers for San Andreas came out, it looked like it would be a decent popcorn flick, but at the same time I worried that it would fall under the same fate as 2012 and amongst other failures. Choosing style over substance. Upon seeing it, I found myself extremely pleased with this film. It definitely was a great popcorn action/disaster flick, but there were more elements to it that sets it apart from others. Up until this point The Day After Tomorrow has easily been my favorite disaster movie, although it still is, San Andrea is easily the best one since. The script takes a plausible concept and brings it to life to show what the West Coast would endure should the San Andreas Fault shift. The destruction that plays out is shocking and phenomenal. The special effects and action sequences are extremely mind-blowing and brings a great amount of shock that most disaster films don’t display a whole lot of. Granted along with this comes many moments that are unrealistic, but it’s an action film so it’s forgiven. It also helps that the special effects don’t get so over-the-top that you can see the CGI clearly. The action grabs a hold of you and never lets go. What also sets it apart is that there is an actual heart to the story and our characters actually have some substance where you want them to survive. We are given enough background information on the family and enough time to see them as individuals, and not some cheesy and annoying family that’s overdramatic. The cast also does an excellent job with their roles. Dwayne Johnson gives his best performance yet as Ray. Sure, Johnson plays the typical action hero we know him for, but when it comes to the emotional moments that give the character humanity, Johnson sells it and displays the emotion as realistically as possible. Carla Gugino also provides a solid performance as Ray’s estranged wife who is just as damaged from their loss as he is and just as terrified for losing their only child they have left. Both Johnson and Gugino have great chemistry together and sell their performances as a couple and root for them all the way. Besides Johnson, Alexandra Daddario provides a shining performance as Ray and Emma’s tough and resourceful daughter. Daddario is not only stunning to look at here, but so is her performance. Of all the cast, she’s the one who really digs into the role and brings humanity to her. She’s not a spoiled brat, she’s actually caring, and a strong female character. It’s thanks to the actress really putting herself into the role that makes this likability possible, and like Johnson and Gugino, Daddario knows how to bring in the emotions.
The faults that the film has is that it does admittedly fall under some particular disaster movie cliches. One of them being the final shot and line from the movie that is so cringe-worthy because of it’s amount of cheese. There is also a bit of humorous moments that are a bit forced and used at awkward moments. Despite this, San Andreas in action packed thrill ride with amazing visuals and effects, solid acting, and some good depth.