San Andreas (2015)    2 Stars


San Andreas (2015)

San Andreas (2015)


Director: Brad Peyton

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario

Synopsis: In the aftermath of a massive earthquake in California, a rescue-chopper pilot makes a dangerous journey with his ex-wife across the state in order to rescue his daughter.

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San Andreas serves notice of just how incredibly dumb it’s going to be from the very first scene, in which we see a girl (Morgan Griffin) survive a crash in which her car flips over multiple times as it hurtles down a steep hillside before coming to rest at a precariously vertical angle hundreds of feet above terra firma.   You and I would be dead, or rendered immobile by multiple fractures, after bouncing down a hillside in a metal box, but Supergirl survives with only a few superficial cuts and scratches.   Dumb devolves into stupid when we then get to watch daredevil helicopter rescue pilot Ray Gaines (Dwayne Johnson – Pain & Gain) shimmy his chopper into position in the narrowest of gaps in order to rescue the stricken girl.   Let’s face it – who needs to worry about an earthquake when we’ve got Ray?

It’s not the stupidity that rankles, though.   At least director Brad Peyton gives us fair warning about what to expect from the outset.   No, it’s the way Ray – who does everything but don a red-and-blue suit during the course of the film – abandons his duties at the first tremor to make sure his nearly ex-wife and suspiciously white daughter are ok.   Thanks, Ray!  Don’t worry about us, will ya?   You just take off in an LAFD helicopter paid for by the American taxpayer and take care of your own.

San Andreas’s saving grace is that it is a big, dumb movie that knows it’s a big, dumb movie, and is quite happy to be one.   All it wants to do is deliver stupendous and mindless scenes of buildings collapsing and it gets to this fun stuff just as quickly as it can, after first squeezing in a scene of Blake (Alexandra Daddario), Ray’s suspiciously white daughter, in a bikini.   As luck would have it, Emma (Carla Gugino – Judas Kiss), Ray’s nearly ex-wife, is lunching with Kylie Minogue when the first quake hits.   That might not mean much to American viewers, but to everyone else that bizarre fact is entirely in keeping with the sheer nuttiness of the movie.   Kylie Minogue, beloved pocket-sized pop icon, appears in San Andreas for one scene just so that she can fall off a skyscraper.   Seriously, how great is that?

Ray could be forgiven for suspecting that God is seriously pissed off at him as one perilous situation follows another, but he overcomes each obstacle separating him from his suspiciously white daughter with super-heroic ingenuity, and even finds time for a little bridge-building with the ex-.   And it will take more than an 800 mile long crack in the world to stop Ray Gaines from rescuing Blake from the basement car-park in which she was abandoned by her mum’s weaselly British boyfriend.   Fortunately, Ben Taylor (Aussie Hugh Johnstone-Burt), Britain’s only decent male, and his precocious younger brother, Ollie (Art Parkinson – The Anomaly) are on hand to rescue her, thus giving her the opportunity to later demonstrate how she is every bit as ingenious as her dad.

It’s impossible to dislike San Andreas in the same way that it’s impossible to dislike a hyperactive dog chasing its tail in the middle of a motorway.  It’s just too stupid to dislike, and all we can do is stare as we wait for the untidy death that must certainly come.   But, no!   San Andreas is a movie that defies the laws of physics, of gravity, of common-sense.   It pounds our senses with a relentless barrage of stupendous special effects and hair-raising escapes from near-certain death while torturing our brain cells with school-play dialogue and B-list acting.   Watch San Andreas and you won’t hate it – you’ll hate yourself for secretly enjoying it.

(Reviewed 5th December 2015)

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