Plot: Professor Lawrence Hayes (Paul Giamatti) has cracked the code on earthquake predictions, but it could be too late, as their research data signals that an epic quake is about to be unleashed. A massive quake demolishes the Hoover Dam, with aftershocks likely in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Meanwhile, Raymond (The Rock) has just completed a tough rescue operation, but now has to roll back into action to help in the wake of the earthquake. As the chain of quakes head toward California and Raymond’s family, he has to survive disaster after disaster to attempt to make it to them and perform his most important rescue missions ever. But even with help from Hayes and his team, can Raymond save his family?
Entertainment Value: San Andreas isn’t the worst action movie I’ve seen, but it is a total bore and can be a chore to sit through. The movie runs almost two hours, with about an hour of narrative depth stretched to transparent levels and a good amount of the film is straight up filler. The story about a man trying to save his family during a disaster is a competent one, but San Andreas stumbles with even this basic narrative and it never finds a decent rhythm. But this wouldn’t have mattered if the movie delivered on the action and disaster front, which doesn’t happen. Despite a massive budget, the action is lackluster and the disaster elements are ineffective. This is thanks to some low rent CGI that dampens the natural disaster and destruction, while the action scenes are about as generic as it gets. This should have been an epic, over the top ride that delivered at least some impressive special effects, but no such luck. In the end, we have a bloated, slow, and rather dull action movie and little else.
The Rock is a charismatic performer, but he seems to choose projects that don’t make good use of his talents. In San Andreas, he is tasked to be serious and show little of his charm, which isn’t a recipe for success. While he is capable when it comes to more comedic roles, he struggles with even basic drama and even in a fluff movie like San Andreas, he flounders in most scenes. There’s just no depth or emotion to his acting style and the movie suffers as a result, as even this kind of material can be elevated in the right hands. The action scenes don’t even put his action hero skills on showcase, leaning more on terrible CGI and overly simple set pieces. I’m sure his more devoted fans will find more to like with his work here, but I found it to be a forgettable effort. Paul Giamatti is also on hand and while he brings his usual good performance, this just isn’t the kind of script that allows him to shine. The cast also includes Carla Gugino, Ioan Gruffudd, Kylie Minogue, and Alexandra Daddario.