Category Archives: San Andreas

San Andreas: A Movie for Rescue Workers?


I am a California girl, who grew up with Smog Alerts and earthquake drills.

My husband is a volunteer rescue worker, who trains with a local and a national team.

I wanted to see San Andreas (2015 PG-13), directed by Brad Peyton.  He would go with me only if he was allowed to critique the actors’ rescue techniques.


I’ve asked the question before:  Can a teacher enjoy a classroom movie?  Do police officers like watching cop shows?  Do lawyers approve of courtroom dramas?

For my rescue worker, the answer is, “No.”


Ray (Dwayne Johnson) is a rescue-chopper pilot with the Los Angeles Fire Department.  Throughout the movie we see him fly helicopters and use rope to hang from the chopper to rescue people.  My husband could barely eat any popcorn because he was so busy telling me everything Ray did wrong.

The movie got one rescue thing right:  When his helicopter is damaged and has to land without engine power, Ray uses autorotation to land safely.  Here is Cal Fire doing a practice autorotation landing:

Did you watch this video?  It’s boring, right?  Maybe it’s good for training purposes, but there is no drama.  That’s where Hollywood is allowed to be inaccurate.  Accurate is dull and tedious!


Same with the earthquake stuff.  The LA Times listed five things the movie got wrong about earthquakes, and one thing it got right.  Look at the great pictures in the article!  The movie would be blah without great earthquake destruction scenes – even if they are unlikely in real life!

To me, this is a fun disaster movie with real world lessons on how to survive an earthquake.  You could read the California Department of Conservation article on what to do.  But I learned it all in the movie:

  1. If you run around in a panic, you will be crushed by falling buildings.
  2. If you stay on a bridge or dam or skyscraper, you will be killed.
  3. If you are mean to someone, even during moments of panic, you will later be crushed.
  4. Don’t stand in doorways; instead, hide under a desk or along side a sturdy wall.
  5. If you get doused with gasoline, change clothes quickly so you don’t catch fire and die.
  6. To increase your chance of survival, learn how to hot wire cars, drive motor boats, and fly planes.
  7. Always wear a skimpy tank under your shirt, so you can use your shirt as a bandage for hotties.
  8. If you are uncertain what to do, officials probably will help you (security guards, police, fire, paramedics, FIMA).

And this is what my husband couldn’t see in the movie:  All the officials trained to help in an emergency did just that, and at great personal risk.  We saw security guards calmly guiding people out of buildings. We saw police directing traffic.  We saw FIMA’s relief camp.  We saw firefighters working on blazes.


Thank God for the selfless public servants who help in our time of need!

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Filed under Movies, San Andreas