The hero’s first line is ‘just doin’ my job, ma’am’; the hero’s last is ‘now we rebuild’, as he stands watching Old Glory waving proud over the rubble of San Francisco. If there was just an iota of tongue-in-cheek interspersed in between – and Dwayne ‘the Rock’ Johnson as that hero, Ray, is quite adept at irony – you could maybe forgive all the crap. But there’s not, and you can’t. A helluva ride (yawn) is promised when the Hoover Dam bursts in the opening ten minutes and it’s just one calamity after the next as the long-awaited earthquake along the San Andreas fault plays geology’s ‘terrorist’ to Ray’s indefatigable, dutiful courage. I’ve maintained a sneaking fondness for Johnson since I saw him sing Are You Lonesome Tonight in The Game Plan (2007), a neglected little charmer, but this is beyond the pale. Physically, he is like a black Michelin man, only with a smaller head. As a rescue service helicopter pilot, you can only wonder how they got him into the thing in the first place.
His wife and sexy daughter (Caria Gugino and Alexandra Daddario) – both white for marketing purposes – do a lot of running from tumbling rooftop to tumbling rooftop, with their boobs bouncing in tight tops while shrieking and gasping more OMGs than you would see in an hour’s scrolling of Fb inanities. Buried beneath all the mayhem is the sobering knowledge that the west coast of the US, in the not too distant future, is almost certainly due for such a cataclysmic event, as tectonic plates irrevocably keep moving. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope that there is somebody like Dwayne around to stay calm and indestructible and who, above all else, is able to remember more than a couple of lines of dialogue while enshrining Hollywood’s highest values. Admittedly, the sight of the ocean liner smashing through the Golden Gate Bridge is specky, but otherwise this is a movie of seismic dreadfulness – a frontrunner for Joe Cocker of the year.