Nicole Kidman plays Silvia Broome, an American born, but African bred interpreter working at the UN in New York. Returning to the building late one night to pick up some property she left earlier, she overhears a whispered conversation in the rare African language spoken in the country she was brought up in, Matobo. The conversation discusses a possible assassination plot of the Matoban President, Dr Zuwanie, who is planning to visit the UN to defend charges of genocide that have been alleged against him. Broome reports the incident and is investigated by Secret Service Agent Tobin Keller (Sean Penn) whose job is to protect the Matoban President when he makes his visit. Keller not only has to ensure the President's safety but he must also ensure nothing happens to Broome, who seems to be the target of mysterious pursuers.
Broome herself though, perhaps isn't the whiter than white innocent she first appears when Keller discovers that she was involved in the rebel uprising in Matobo.
The film is full of the usual sort of plot, sub-plot and counter-plot so you never really know who is on the side of who, who is chasing who and who are the goodies and who are the baddies! For all this though, the film is never confusing and the twist at the end is well worth waiting for, even though it's a trick that has been used before.
Use of tension throughout is excellently done and there are more than one occasion that will find you on the edge of your seat. The fact that some of the story developments have a poignancy all of their own in today's world, makes the film even more riveting.
Kidman, as ever, gives a great performance and manages to play the role not as a victim but as a strong willed woman who believes in what she is doing. Penn, with that fantastic expressional face, is similarly good as the world weary and baggage carrying agent. They play off each other really well and it's a credit to the film that it never slips into a romance story even though you could believe the two main leads would have an attraction for each other.
All in all, an intelligent and exciting thrilling drama that has the added bonus of being bang-up to date with current affairs giving it an important relevance.