Generally a street of wealthy people in Bethesda, Maryland, about five miles from Washington, D.C. Equivalent to ''Rodeo Drive'' in Beverly Hills.
Also a thriller movie, where a George Washington University professor suspects his new neighbors are planning a terrorist attack.
The movie stars JeffBridges as a university professor who is an expert on domestic terrorism, and whose wife died in a failed FBI mission some years earlier. He has a young son, a girlfriend (played by Hope Davis) and keeps in touch with his wife's former FBI partner, played by Robert Gossett. One day he begins to suspect his next-door neighbors (played by Tim Robbins and Joan Cusack) to be terrorists, based on a number of incidents that have occurred around them, including their son being hospitalized after an accident involving a firecracker. Nobody will believe him though, finding his ideas crazy and paranoid, pointing the finger at his being unable to recover from the trauma he experienced when his wife died in the manner she did.
[[spoiler:During the movie, the professor is eventually convinced that he was mistaken, only to suddenly find out that it's still all true. Then he tries to foil the terrorist's plot, but is eventually tricked into being the fall guy in their bombing of the FBI Headquarters.]]
!!This film provides examples of:
* AdultFear: The BigBad takes Michael's son hostage, which is the point Michael goes off the deep end for fear of losing him.
* AffablyEvil: The BigBad, his friends and associates, even his wife.
* [[spoiler:TheBadGuyWins: Not only does the bad guy succeed in his plans, [[DeceasedFallGuyGambit the good guy takes the fall.]]]]
* BatmanGambit: The BigBad knew Jeff Bridges would try his best to stop him, [[spoiler: not realizing he was making himself look suspicious to other people. After the bombing, it was easy for people to believe Jeff Bridges acted alone, based on his own actions trying to save everyone.]]
* BigBad: Tim Robbins could be seen as one since he seems to be the leader of his terrorist cell. It is also implied that he is subservient to a BiggerBad, however this is not directly referenced or mentioned on screen [[spoiler: at the end when they are packing up his wife says "I hope this time they send us somewhere nice", implying they are waiting for orders from the higher ups in their organization.]]
* CassandraTruth: To be fair it is a rather wild accusation and the professor didn't really have any solid evidence.
* ChessMaster: The villains, particularly Tim Robbins' character as he clearly knows enough about the protagonist to subtly influence his moves.
* CreepyChild: The terrorist's son to a small extent is this, saying "I'm sorry, that's classified information" in a rather militaristic manner, also building a 'soldier's compound' rather than simply a fort, all of which makes the professor suspicious (for good reason) and makes him think there's something wrong.
* DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything: The terrorist bombing that the professor is lecturing about to his class suspiciously resembles the RealLife Oklahoma City bombing. Also, the incident which caused the death of his wife heavily resembles Ruby Ridge.
* DownerBeginning: [[spoiler:The terrorist's son has burned his hand off a few minutes before the opening sequence with a fire-cracker and is nearly run over by the professor, walking down the road in a daze with a shredded hand]].
* DangerouslyGenreSavvy: The villains could be seen as this, explicitly stated by the main villain (Tim Robbins). "''Do you think we'd leave anything to chance?''".
* FreudianExcuse: The death of the professor's wife during a failed FBI mission is implied to be this in the montage at the end. [[spoiler:Subverted because it was a fabrication (the part about the death being a Freudian excuse, not the death itself)- the professor was framed.]]
* GambitRoulette: Creator/RogerEbert pointed out problems with the terrorist plot, as shown in the page quote.
* [[spoiler:TheHeroDies: Michael himself at the end.]]
* HeKnowsTooMuch: The reason why the Langs want to kill Michael.
* HostageSituation: The professor's son is kidnapped to force the professor into compliance.
* KarmaHoudini: [[spoiler:Well yeah, the bad guy won, and is implied to have been pulling off such operations since well before the story begins.]]
* KilledToUpholdTheMasquerade: The professor's new love interest finds out too much. Just before having a convenient fatal car accident, she had left a message on his answering machine regarding her revelation before dying, but this is also erased by the bad guys.
* MakeItLookLikeAnAccident: The professor's new love interest is killed off in a convenient car 'accident' after discovering too much.
* MissingMom: The Professor's wife was revealed to be a former FBI agent killed in the line of duty [[spoiler: which gives the BigBad the forged motive at the end]].
* MonsterSobStory: Oliver's story of William Fennimore Sr. and the loss of his farm.
* ReallyDeadMontage: Sort of, [[spoiler:the news reports afterward painting the professor as the bad guy]].
* RightWingMilitiaFanatic: [[spoiler: The terrorists are implied to be this]].
* ScoutOut: The BigBad convinces the professor to enroll his kid into a Scout-like organization that his son is part of. [[spoiler:It is later revealed that the father of a supposed terrorist mentioned earlier in the professor's class was also a member of this scouting organization. The common thread? The same scoutmaster. Later the professor's kid is [[HostageSituation kidnapped by the terrorists while on a camping trip with said scouting organization]].]]
* ShootTheShaggyDog: [[spoiler:Not only were Michael's attempts at saving everyone unsuccessful, but he took the blame for everything posthumously.]]
* StepfordSmiler: Joan Cusack's character in this is a Type C, played to much creepiness.
* TrailersAlwaysSpoil: The trailer pretty much gives the entire film away, even the ending. Both director Mark Pellington and lead Jeff Bridges have mentioned it several times in their commentary for the film. The DVD cover is also a bit of a give away too.
* TooSoon: Was due to come out in the Spring of 1999 but then the Columbine shootings happened and the movie was pushed back.
** This also led to a distribution change. Initially, Polygram was to have released the film and even had trailers and posters out. After being delayed, Polygram was reorganized (eventually being merged with October Films and later becoming Focus Features) and the film was sold to Screen Gems (who made it their second release ever).
* [[spoiler:UnwittingPawn: Michael]]