San Andreas co-star Carla Gugino pretty much sums up the movie at the mid-way point. She tells soon-to-be ex-husband, Dwayne Johnson’s Ray, that if he can’t save their daughter Blake, no one can. Johnson and Gugino — as predictable as pie— save the young woman.
What Johnson can’t do is save the movie.
By the way, saving the daughter is not a spoiler. It’s the point of the actions of Johnson and Gugino’s ( Mr. Popper’s Penguins) characters. Johnson is a military veteran, helicopter and rescue expert, and whatever mode of transportation they need to save her predictably and laughably shows up.
There are lots of laughs in San Andreas. None of them intentional.
Gugino is about to hook up with a millionaire developer, who built an earthquake-proof building in San Francisco. He takes the daughter Blake, played by Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D’s Alexandra Daddario, to the building.
Then the quake hits and hits and hits, and Blake is abandoned by the cowardly millionaire but hooks up with love interest Ben and his too-cute brother, Ollie.
Paul Giamatti and The Good Wife’s Archie Panjabi round out the cast, playing an earthquake expert and geologist and TV reporter who warn people to abandon the city.
The charismatic but wooden Johnson plays the same character in every movie, so his work is nothing special. Neither is the acting of anyone else in the cast.
If there is a star, it is director Brad Peyton, who directed Johnson in Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. Peyton and his special effects wizards brilliantly but predictably wipe out most of Southern California via the San Andreas Fault. But you’ve seen these effects done better in a dozen other movies.
What really undoes Peyton and his stars is a shaky, banal plot that ultimately turns this disaster into a real disaster.