In the closing moments of the computer effects-heavy disaster movie San Andreas, a tattered Stars And Stripes unfurls on what remains of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
It’s the final, heavy-handed image of undaunted patriotism in a cliche-laden battle between puny mankind and mighty Mother Nature on the west coast of America.
Recent events in Nepal are still fresh in the mind as director Brad Peyton reduces cities to twisted rubble with a series of record-breaking earthquakes.
Any shivers of real-life tragedy are quickly dispelled by the hoary dialogue in Carlton Cuse’s script and increasingly outrageous action sequences, which include the implausible sight of a rescue helicopter weaving between skyscrapers as they tumble into one another like giant metallic dominoes.
The best examples of the disaster genre, including The Poseidon Adventure, The Towering Inferno and Titanic, balance spectacular stunts with heart-breaking human drama, recognising that audiences need to feel emotionally attached to stricken characters in the midst of the sound and fury.
Screenwriter Cuse short-changes us here, hastily sketching a fractured family that is destined to reunite in the eye of the storm.
Star rating: 4/10