In the aftermath of a massive earthquake in California, a rescue-chopper pilot makes a dangerous journey across the state in order to rescue his estranged daughter.
“San Andreas” does a good job tugging at the audience’s emotions. In the opening sequence, a girl is driving next to a mountain when huge boulders begin to fall, knocking her car off the road and over a cliff, and leaving her car hanging from a tree. L.A. rescue chopper pilot Ray Gaines (Dwayne Johnson) and his team descend down the cliff to rescue her. Gaines ropes down, learns the girl’s name is Natalie, and comforts her while rescuing her from the car dangling high above the ground.
That sequence is fairly tame compared to what comes after. A series of earthquakes of great magnitude rip first through Nevada and then California. The audience roots for the main characters to survive as they navigate through life-threatening situations, including crashing buildings and parking lots, falling debris, a tsunami, and being trapped underwater.
Gaines had recently received divorce papers from his wife Emma (Carla Gugino), who has just invited her boyfriend Daniel to move in with her. The plan to take Gaines’ daughter Blake (Alexandra Daddario) to college and visit with her ends when Gaines gets an emergency call for help. The audience later learns why Gaines and Emma separated: his inability to talk about the death of their other daughter while rafting with her father. Now Blake is in danger when the earthquake strikes, particularly when she is trapped in a car and Daniel abandons her. British brothers Ben and Ollie, who Blake had just met, come to her rescue, with the struggle to survive bonding the three until Blake can find her mother and father, who have reunited to search for her.
Heart-tugging moments encourage the audience to invest their emotions in the story, especially when Blake faces a life-threatening event with only Gaines able to save her and thus prevent the loss of his second daughter. The audience roots for the family to survive. However, despite the amazing special effects surrounding the earthquakes and the tsunami, the film features strong language that prevents us from awarding the movie our Dove “Family-Approved” Seal.