We open by meeting The Rock’s character, Ray a First Responder doing what he does best. It’s a tense scene with a helicopter dangerously hovering between two huge rock faces, trying to save a girl from a falling car. When Ray’s not busy, running into disaster while everyone runs away, he has a daughter that he cares about. Blake played by Alexandra Daddario, lives with her mom Emma, who has sent the divorce papers to Ray. At California Tech two seismologists have just discovered a way that scientists can predict impending earthquakes. They have the chance to test it on a large earthquake that hits Nevada. The repercussions of which mean first responder Ray can’t take his daughter on their road trip. She will be going along to San Francisco with her mom’s boyfriend; skyscraper builder Daniel Riddick. But the Nevada earthquake was a mere pre-cursor to a much bigger one that looks to tear through San Francisco.
The main cast is split up into unlikely groups when the first strike hits. Ray is piloting his helicopter to rescue his ex-wife Emma, seemingly one of the best first responders on the planet is not needed when the largest earthquake in 50 years hits a highly populated city. Blake is with her step-dad who quickly reveals himself to be the villain of the piece, as a selfish survivor. The team of scientists are busy trying to get on the airwaves to warn everyone that the biggest earthquake in recorded history is going to follow this one.
The disasters hit with ruthless brutality. Mere milliseconds can make the slightest difference as we see characters killed in cold blood by nature. The visual effects are remarkable as well, they pack a powerful punch that reverberates through your body. It’s a shame that the cast in-between struggle to hold it together. They are unable to hit the emotional notes that are required to ground the story and keep it engaging. While the effects are great the action beats are predictable and the immense amount of close calls becomes overwhelming to the point of exhaustion.
The main story is predictable as soon as everything is laid out for you. The visual effects provide a brilliant spectacle but the lackadaisical script makes it hard to stay gripped.