After a shipment of Russian nuclear weapons is hijacked by a disgruntled Russian general Alexsander Kodoroff (Alexander Baluev), Dr. Julia Kelly (Nicole Kidman), a specialist in nuclear smuggling, is put in charge of the U.S. efforts to keep the weapons out of unfriendly hands.
To assist her, she is assigned an Army contact, Thomas Devoe (George Clooney). Now, Thomas and Julia have differing styles. She is a level-headed rational over-thinker. He's a hot-headed, quick acting, do-what-it-takes-to-get-the-job-done type of guy.
Alexsander plans to sell the weapons to the highest bidder. The first man who is interested is the tormented Serbian diplomat, Dusan Gavrich (Marcel Iures). His wife and daughter were killed in the Bosnian turmoil, and he blames the West. Now he wants his own personal nuke. Can you see where this is headed?
The trouble with the film is that you can see where all of it is headed. If you bother to take your brain out of neutral, you can pretty much figure out the end of the film from only a few minutes in.
But, sometimes it's fun to coast. And in that respect, the film is like one big downhill slope. It's set pieces may be routine, but they're exciting to watch.
Clooney and Kidman are amiable as the leads, but their characters are rather generic. Iures has a meatier character, but comes off as a rather uninteresting villain.
Perhaps the most interesting detail about the film is its moral stance. The recovery of a rogue nuclear device is worth any means neccessary, be they civilian casualties or even acts of war. The film never gets bogged down in an ethical debate over the consequences, but it is the most thought-provoking idea in a nearly thought-free movie.
Director Mimi Leder has crafted a familiar, but enjoyable, action thriller. It may not be an ideal movie, but it knows its formula well.
[R - strong violence and some language] (Dreamworks)