In the aftermath of a massive earthquake in California, a rescue-chopper pilot makes a dangerous journey across the state in order to rescue his estranged daughter.
Thankfully, the action set pieces are exciting enough, and come at such a successive clip - "Oh, s-t" may be the film s most repeated line of dialogue - that it s only afterward that you have the chance to pause and ask questions about the plot.
California crumbles spectacularly in an action movie that quickly degenerates from blissfully stupid to fatally stupid.
Together with cinematographer Steve Yedlin and VFX supervisor Colin Strause, director Brad Peyton achieves a persuasive blending of practical shots and superior CG techniques for the most complex sequences.
As for the story line, there are faults and cracks aplenty. But "San Andreas" does know where its epicenter must be: overdone, loud, anything-but-realistic and enthusiastic destruction sequences.
The special effects aren t bad for a lower-budget ($100 million) blockbuster, though director Brad Peyton and his writers often deploy them in downright laughable ways.
It s hard not to shrug, stifle a yawn and reach for the popcorn when the Golden Gate Bridge once again buckles and sways and drops vehicles into the bay.
It s hard to appreciate San Andreas as much more than a series of special effects vistas: impeccably detailed, completely plastic.
In San Andreas, The Big One finally hits California, and not even Dwayne Johnson s mutant biceps can keep those infamous tectonic plates from separating.
The action is bracing, Johnson s performance is solid and, within its extremely narrow parameters, entirely convincing, and Gugino and Daddario are both gritty and attractive. The result is a pretty exemplary popcorn movie.
"San Andreas" is a disaster - literally.