In director Brad Peyton’s San Andreas, starring Dwayne Johnson, the titular California fault line ruptures and causes a 9.5 magnitude earthquake.
Peyton, who has previously helmed Journey 2 The Mysterious Island and Cats and Dogs The Revenge of Kitty Galore, leaves much to be desired with this totally unexciting fictionalization of the long dreaded quake.
The film’s ridiculous opening involves a young lady driving her SUV along a canyon through Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley. Suddenly a massive tremor ultimately causes her car to swerve off the road, careen down the mountainside and flip over a good few times. Reality dictates that one would be very hard pressed to survive such a harrowing incident, but this person just happens to emerge relatively unscathed. Such are the miracles of Hollywood.
What should have been a captivating and thought provoking early summer release (the possibility of a massive earthquake along the San Andreas fault line remains very real), turns out to be little more than a boring special effects show. The word “boring” is used here simply because we have seen the same type of devastation in a billion other disaster movies.
In short, the extensive destruction of Los Angeles and San Francisco simply lacks depth, real storyline and character development. Everyone here is dull and cliché. We have met them before and will undoubtedly meet them again.
Johnson plays Ray Gaines, an LA search and rescue pilot who, from his helicopter, is desperately scouring the post quake landscape for his estranged wife (Carla Cugino), from whom he’s about to get a divorce, and daughter (Alexandra Daddario).
But Peyton’s flat and bland direction prevents us from giving two sh*ts about this guy, and feeling any sympathy towards wife, daughter and any other character within the storyline.
Similarly, Paul Giamatti’s leading seismologist, who initially tries to warn everybody that “the big one” is imminent, also fails to impress. Giamatti is an excellent actor – thanks to his performances in vastly superior titles such as Parkland, 12 Years a Slave and Sideways – but his work here amounts to an extremely underdeveloped person who simply fades into the backdrop of destruction and mayhem.
Let’s be honest – a movie about a massive earthquake is clearly not going to be an intensive character study. But an ability to create characters, who invoke some modicum of sympathy from the audience, can certainly do no harm. One day, another filmmaker can hopefully revisit this topic in a manner which allows us to actually care about the characters. Until that time, however, save your movie ticket bucks and wait for the digital and DVD releases.
Studio: Warner Bros
Director: Brad Peyton
Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario, Ioan Gruffudd, Archie Panjabi, Hugo Johnstone-Burt, Art Parkinson and Paul Giamatti
Screenwriter: Carlton Cuse (story by Andre Fabrizio & Jeremy Passmore)
Producer: Beau Flynn
Executive Producers: Richard Brener, Samuel J. Brown, Michael Disco, Toby Emmerich, Rob Cowan, Tripp Vinson and Bruce Berman
Image info: (L-r) CARLA GUGINO and DWAYNE JOHNSON in the action thriller “SAN ANDREAS,” a production of New Line Cinema and Village Roadshow Pictures, released by Warner Bros. Pictures. Photo Credit: Jasin Boland. Copyright: © 2015 WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC.