"It's been a long time since I got you to second base!"
No matter how big of a fan of anyone from this cast you are, the entire screenplay is so full of cliches and the dialogue is almost entirely laughable that it makes it impossible for any one of them to save this film. Not even Dwayne Johnson (and he is an actor who usually delivers in action movies). This disaster movie is no different than The Day After Tomorrow, 2012, or Deep Impact. It is full of cliches and relies solely on CGI, but it doesn't have a soul. We've seen each one of these characters in dozens of movies before and I honestly didn't care for any of them in this film. It takes the familiar family dynamics from Taken, where a divorced father has to save his beautiful teenage daughter, while struggling with the fact that his ex-wife is moving in with a wealthy man, and it mixes it with the familiar elements of disaster movies like 2012. So in summary, it is basically a cross between 2012 and Taken. The effects didn't really blow me away either and the best scenes are already included in the trailers. I didn't hate San Andreas, but it doesn't deliver anything fresh or original. It's a disaster movie that lives up to being just that: a disaster.
The film introduces us to the hero right away as Ray (Dwayne Johnson), a rescue-chopper pilot is saving a teenage girl from a car accident as it has derailed off the road and is barely hanging in the air squeezed by some rocks along a mountainside. After the successful rescue mission, Ray gives his daughter, Blake (Alexandra Daddario) a call to invite her out for the night, but she and her mother Emma (Carla Gugino) have already made plans with Emma’s new boyfriend, Daniel (Ioan Gruffudd) a wealthy business magnate. Ray and Blake make plans to hang out together the next day, but a massive earthquake in Nevada sends him on yet another rescue mission. In the meantime, Lawrence (Paul Giamatti), an expert in all things concerning earthquakes and tectonic plate movements develops a program that allows him to predict possible earthquakes in the future. He predicts that the Nevada quake is just the beginning of the disaster and that California will be hit the hardest. His prediction comes true as Los Angeles and San Francisco begin to shake. On his way back, Ray receives a call from Emma who is in a building in LA that is about to collapse. Emma happens to be in another building all the way in San Francisco with Daniel that is also falling apart. Ray makes it his mission to save both his ex-wife and his daughter before the quake completely destroys both cities. Meanwhile, Blake is saved by a pair of Brits, Ben (Hugo Johnstone-Burt) and his young brother Ollie (Art Parkinson), but this is just the beginning and more massive earthquakes are expected to hit them soon.
Having the hero of the film play a rescue-chopper is a great excuse for the director, Brad Peyton (who had previously worked with Johnson in Journey 2: The Mysterious Island), to include jaw dropping aerial shots of the destruction. There are dozens of buildings collapsing and thousands of lives lost as Ray is trying to save his family. The CGI effects are solid, although nothing we haven’t seen before. It delivers what audiences are expecting from a disaster movie, but the characters are never fully developed. The dialogue in this film is incredibly dull and its hard to care for the characters despite how much of a fan you are of the cast. There are some funny moments thanks to the chemistry between Johnstone and Daddario, but there is not much more here. You know exactly who is going to survive and who is not so there is no tension either. It’s a film you come to see for the visuals alone and nothing else.