Carla Gugino and Dwayne Johnson in a scene from the movie San Andreas and (right) on set.
Carla Gugino and Dwayne Johnson in a scene from the movie San Andreas and (right) on set. Photos Jasin Boland And Contributed

San Andreas: Action flick with soul

SAN Andreas is a large-scale disaster movie with a big heart.

The action drama follows rescue helicopter pilot Ray (Dwayne Johnson) as he attempts to reunite with his estranged daughter after a massive earthquake destroys much of California.

The plot imagines what will happen when the San Andreas Fault, which runs most of the length of the state, gives way as it is predicted to do some time in the next 30 years.

"This has by far exceeded all my expectations and my expectations were pretty high with this thing," Johnson told Weekend.

"I saw the movie and it's really relentless and entertaining and it's terrifying.

"To watch all those elements come together in the movie in 3D is mind boggling, and then you look around when the movie's done and you think 'okay this could actually happen'." Johnson meets the demands of leading man both physically and emotionally. While his hulking 196cm frame is perfectly suited to the hero role, Johnson related most strongly to his character as a father.

"I read the script and I loved that it was so big in scale and epic, but the number one reason I did the movie was because I was also playing an everyday man who is struggling in terms of his relationships and his divorce," he said.

While the disaster film is set in California, it was filmed mostly in south-east Queensland at locations including Movie World on the Gold Coast and Gatton in the Lockyer Valley.

Johnson hopes to highlight the important work of emergency and rescue workers through his portrayal of Ray.

"It was nice to play a man who is not a superhero," he said.

"He's a regular everyday guy, although he has a job that requires him to fly into danger when everyone is running away."

San Andreas is the second on-screen collaboration of Johnson and director Brad Peyton after Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. They are due to work together again on Journey 3: From the Earth to the Moon.

But Johnson next stars in the TV series Ballers, filmed in his tropical hometown of Miami, Florida.

"I would say it is my busiest year ever," he said.

"I'm grateful that I'm sitting in this position now where we have San Andreas coming out. I'm enjoying the success of Fast and Furious - bittersweet of course as I miss Paul (Walker) dearly - Ballers is coming out soon and I'm getting ready to shoot Central Intelligence, a big action comedy with Kevin Hart.

"I've always wanted to be in this position. I don't mean 'Oh a lot of big movies, money'. I just mean having a diverse career. When I got into Hollywood 15 years ago I was wrestling at that time… I didn't get into the business for money. I wanted to be a good actor and I felt if I had a diverse career I had an opportunity to have longevity."

San Andreas opens in cinemas on Thursday.

San Andreas

  •  Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario, Art Parkinson, Paul Giamatti.
  •  Director: Brad Peyton
  •  Rating: M
  •  Reviewer's last word: This 3D Californian earthquake drama doesn't reinvent the disaster movie genre but it does feature a talented cast and stunning visuals.