Chief Raymond ‘Ray’ Gaines (Johnson) is a Los Angeles Fire Department helicopter-rescue pilot. Recently divorced from his estranged wife Emma (Gugino), he calls his daughter Blake (Daddario) to talk about their upcoming trip to San Francisco. Meanwhile, Caltech seismologist Lawrence Hayes (Giamatti) and his colleague Dr. Kim Park (Will Yun Lee) are at the Hoover Dam when an unknown fault nearby ruptures, triggering a massive earthquake which collapses the dam, killing Park in the process. After Ray is called into work, Blake reluctantly decides to go with her mother Emma’s new boyfriend Daniel Riddick (Gruffudd). Hayes discovers that the San Andreas Fault is starting to shift, causing a massive 9.1 earthquake that starts ripping apart major cities along the fault line. At the same time, Emma is having lunch with Daniel’s sister Susan (Minogue) in a highrise restaurant when the quake hits Los Angeles, destroying much of the city with Susan among its heavy casualties. Ray is able to save Emma, and they barely escape the city on his helicopter. Much of California becomes affected by the quake. In San Francisco, Blake and Daniel are trapped in their car on the basement of the latter’s office. Daniel leaves her to call for help, but he flees in terror, leaving her behind. Blake is saved by Ben (Johnstone-Burt) and Ollie (Parkinson), two brothers that Blake had met moments before the earthquake. After calling her parents, Ray and Emma quickly fly up north to save her. When enroute, the engine in Ray’s helicopter fails, causing him and Emma to make an emergency landing in nearby Bakersfield. After obtaining a vehicle, they drive out until they reach the now opened-up San Andreas Fault. They find an old couple who happen to own an airplane, who end up giving Ray and Emma their plane in exchange for their vehicle. Meanwhile, Blake, Ben and Ollie tries to find a spot in the city where Ray and Emma can save them; seeing that their planned rendezvous point, Coit Tower, is already engulfed by flames. With help from news reporter Serena (Panjabi), Hayes is able to warn others of a much more bigger earthquake in San Francisco, just in time before it hits; becoming the largest earthquake ever in history, recorded as a 9.6. Ray and Emma eventually make it to San Francisco, just as the aftershocks continue to destroy the city.
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