Back at home we learn that Ray is in the middle of a divorce from his wife Emma (Carla Gugino) who is involved with weathly real estate developer, Daniel Riddick (Ioan Gruffud). Ray contacts his daughter, Blake, about their trip up to San Francisco and drives to pick her up at Riddick's home. There he learns that Emma has decided to move in with Daniel, crushing any hopes Ray had of reuniting with his estranged wife. Ray is called into work and this results in Daniel driving Blake to San Francisco while Emma meets Daniel's sister, Susan for lunch.
Meanwhile at Caltech, seismologist Lawrence Hayes (Paul Giamatti) is informed by his colleague, Dr. Kim Park that they may have had a breakthrough in being able to predict earthquakes using electromagnetic pulses. They notice that there have been some pulses near the Hoover Dam in Arizona and decide to travel there. It turns out they are correct and a major 7.1 magnitude earthquake hits the area, destroying the dam and killing Dr. Park.
Meanwhile Blake arrived in San Francisco with Daniel and waits for him in the lobby at his office tower. During this time she meets two visitors, Ben who is getting ready for an interview and his kid brother, Ollie. Ben leaves and Daniel returns to take Blake to her destination. However, as they are driving out of the parking garage, an earthquake strikes, sending the car crashing into the lower levels, killing the driver and trapping Blake. Unable to free her, Daniel tells her he is going for help and races up to the lobby. Blake is able to talk to her father and tells him she is trapped in the garage of Daniels building. He tells her he is coming to get her.
However, a second shock hits and Daniel sees a man crushed to death by falling concrete. This terrifies him so much, he abandons Blake to her fate. Fortunately for Blake, Ben has overheard Daniel screaming for someone to help him free a girl in the underground parkade and he and Ollie race to find Blake. Through some ingenuity, they manage to free Blake and the three decide they need to get to a land line and call her father to let him know she is safe. Ray tells Blake to go to the highest point, the Coit Tower where they will meet. More quakes continue and Blake realizes that going to Coit Tower will not work. Instead she tells Ben and Ollie they need to find the highest safe place where her dad in his helicopter can see them. However unknown to Blake, Ray and Emma have had to abandon the helicopter and must now find another way to reach San Francisco. Seismologist Lawrence Hayes warns the public that a more deadly earthquake is about to happen in San Francisco - the largest ever, can Ray and Emma rescue Blake, Ben and Ollie in time?
|The massive, unbelievable San Andreas fault.|
The special effects are what make the movie; crumbling skyscrapers, buckling swaths of cities, bursting dams, collapsing bridges, falling debris, and a massive tsunami that makes the Japan tsunami look small by comparison. Dwayne Johnson, with his wrestler physique has undeniable screen presence and an easy going, protector kind of image that is appealing. He's a capable hero, easily moving from crack helicopter pilot to hot-wiring stolen vehicles, to navigating a speedboat to the top of a massive tsunami while dodging containers falling from a ship and its whirling propellers. Interestingly he steals ALL the vehicles he uses in the movie! Movie goers might wonder why Ray has not been contacted by his unit as to his location and asked to report back to Los Angeles.
Equally adept in this movie, is Blake Gaines who keeps a cool head and uses her knowledge she's picked up from her rescue-worker father. She knows cell phones won't work and looks for a land line and she understands that safety during a tsunami means getting to higher ground fast - in this case going to higher floors in a building. She's a strong character in the movie who earns praise from Ben and Ollie.
|The deadly (but unlikely) tsunami on it's way toward San Francisco.|
Overall this is a fun, entertaining movie that everyone can enjoy provided you just take the story at face value. Stay to watch the credits and listen to Sia's version of California dreamin.