Plenty of faults in Rock-buster

Rutherglen Reformer - - Reviews -

Dwayne “The Rock” John­son has taken on The Un­der­taker in the wrestling ring, Mars-based ge­netic mu­ta­tions, the Co­bra Com­man­der and Ja­son Statham on the big screen.

But go­ing head-to-head with a seis­mic earth­quake lay­ing waste to Cal­i­for­nia prob­a­bly presents his big­gest chal­lenge to date.

The mus­cle-bound ac­tion star re-teams with his Jour­ney 2: The Mys­te­ri­ous Is­land direc­tor Brad Pey­ton to play he­li­copter pi­lot Ray in this throw­back to the popular dis­as­ter flicks of the 1970s.

Lost writer Carl­ton Cuse links up with in­ex­pe­ri­enced duo An­dre Fabrizio and Jeremy Pass­more on the script and screen­play but by the time you leave the cinema – likely with a split­ting headache – af­ter two de­struc­tive hours, you’ll won­der how it took three peo­ple to come up with such a paltry story.

The plot strand driv­ing things for­ward sees Ray hav­ing to defy the big­gest quake of all time to swoop in and res­cue his daugh­ter Blake (played by Alexan­dra Dad­dario).

Don’t worry if you feel like you’re suf­fer­ing from deja vu; the “loved one in jeop­ardy” sto­ry­line is a com­mon oc­cur­rence in city­wreck­ing block­busters (The Day Af­ter To­mor­row, 2012, Clover­field).

There’s also a warn­ing and ex­po­si­tion­spout­ing sci­en­tist no­body will lis­ten to – a crim­i­nally wasted Paul Gia­matti – and grav­ity and physics-de­fy­ing char­ac­ters who de­cide the best course of ac­tion when their en­tire world is crum­bling be­fore their eyes is to ask dumb ques­tions and serve up cheesy one-lin­ers.

As with so many of th­ese ul­tra ex­pen­sive dis­as­ter block­busters, it’s the spe­cial ef­fects that reg­is­ter high­est on the cin­e­matic Richter scale – and they’re as spec­tac­u­lar as you’d ex­pect them to be.

Dar­ing rooftop res­cues, he­li­copter crashes, sky­scrapers be­ing swal­lowed by the earth and a 500ft tsunami all get the pulses rac­ing but are so over-the-top that even renowned – and much­mocked – genre leader Roland Em­merich would blush at some of the car­nage.

John­son’s charisma has of­ten been enough to turn even the most run-of-the-mill flick into some­thing worth watch­ing, and he does his best to lend this cheese-fest some cred­i­bil­ity.

Un­sur­pris­ingly, the phys­i­cal stunts are a breeze for his bulging biceps, but the tone of the story is too se­ri­ous to tap into the like­able, wise-crack­ing bone-cruncher John­son has played in ev­ery­thing from Wel­come to the Jun­gle to the Fast and Fu­ri­ous se­ries.

And the lead­ing man isn’t blessed with Rock-solid sup­port, with Dad­dario scream­ing, Carla Gug­ino get­ting her­self into peril at ev­ery turn and Aussie Hugo Johnstone-Burt’s to­ken “comic re­lief” butcher­ing an English ac­cent.

Even more pre­dictable than yet an­other change on the X Fac­tor judg­ing panel, San An­dreas may serve up a few thrills and spills, but the depth on show is as slight and point­less as Kylie Minogue’s cameo.

Quak­ing in their boots John­son and Gug­ino tread care­fully

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