ACTION; 1hr 54min
STARRING: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario
Ripple effect: Gugino and Johnson
Rolling up to a Dwayne Johnson Rockbuster, you’ll probably have certain expectations of the bigger-as-better, nonstop and full-on variety. Director Brad Peyton and a hard-driven cast deliver all that with an emotion-charged kick in San Andreas — as in the geologic fault line — when California crumples in a spectacularly executed series of earthquakes. Los Angeles Fire Department chopper pilot Ray Gaines (Johnson) is suspended in mid-air as Los Angeles begins to break apart, which, in theory, handily leaves him free to swoop to the rescue of his about-to-be ex-wife, Emma (Gugino), then scoot to San Francisco in search of their daughter, Blake (Daddario).
If only it were that easy. As the world around them falls to pieces with a core-shattering ferocity designed to leave audiences shivering in their seats, the urgency and uncertainty are a perpetually shifting force field. Hallelujah, then, for the watertight guarantee of Johnson’s massive presence as a linchpin in the mayhem. That its family-friendly outcome is guaranteed is completely beside the gasp-inducing point: you may think you’ve seen it all, but this takes disaster to a stratospheric level.