I love disaster flicks. As twisted as it sounds, something about watching mass destruction on the big screen gets me all warm and fuzzy on the inside. If you’re not a fan of movies like The Day After Tomorrow and 2012, then San Andreas surely isn’t for you. This isn’t a quiet film packed with metaphors and carefully-crafted dialogue, it’s a loud, unrealistic thrill-ride that’s oh-so-very entertaining.
San Andreas‘ main selling point is the action, and the film definitely doesn’t disappoint in that department. With a budget of $110 million (not a very hefty fund compared to your average Marvel blockbuster), the film brings life to a number of bone-chilling set-pieces as the West Coast gets struck by several massive earthquakes. These sequences are genuinely riveting, with terrifying devastation at every turn that kept me glued to the edge of my seat throughout the film’s duration. Special shout-out to the harrowing tsunami that’s remarkably well rendered and brutal.
As for the cast, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is shockingly good as our hero. The former wrestler has just the right amount of charisma and star-appeal to ensure you find yourself rooting for his badass heroics. His quest to save his broken family is a straightforward one, but it’s also touching in all the right places. Both Carla Gugino and Alexandra Daddario are excellent as his wife and daughter, and they’re given their own moments to shine and display their resourcefulness. Sadly, much like she has been on The Good Wife for the past several seasons, Archie Panjabi is completely wasted as a useless reporter who exists solely to aid Paul Gimatti’s seismologist in delivering exposition.
Ultimately, director Brad Peyton does an admirable job of blending all the ridiculousness together into an exciting adventure. San Andreas is surely over-the-top, but it’s also focused, and doesn’t offer aimless subplots taking up screen-time and sucking out the momentum (which is so often the case with these spectacles).
A solidly-made slice of disaster porn that’s equal parts gripping and fun. If you’re a fan of the genre (and you don’t go in expecting Oscar-calibre material), then there’s lots of thrills to be had here.