Samir Horn (Don Cheadle) was a Sudanese-born United States citizen who, after watching his father die in a car bombing when he was only twelve years old, went on to become an international Arms Dealer who specializes in selling explosives to terrorist organizations. While on business Samir meets a man named Omar (Saïd Taghmaoui), the leader of a small terror cell in Yemen, whom Samir offers to provide equipment and training so that his men, in Samir's words, "won't blow themselves up... unintentionally, that is."
Their meeting is interrupted when a squadron of local soldiers, led by FBI agents Roy Clayton (Guy Pearce) and Max Archer (Neal McDonough) assault Omar's compound and capture both Omar and Samir. After the FBI agent's unsuccessful attempt to persuade Samir to provide information on his clients in exchange for his freedom, the pair are left to rot in a Yemeni prison. Impressed by Samir's loyalty and devotion to the Islamic faith, Omar offers him a position in his group, and soon after they both escape the prison compound and flee the country.
Months later, when the bombing of a U.S. consulate building in France is linked to Samir, the FBI scrambles to dig up as much information as they can on the enigmatic man. Clayton and Archer travel the globe in an attempt to retrace his footsteps and to try to understand just what would motivate a man whose father was murdered by terrorists to join their cause and, more urgently, where the next bombing will occur.
This film provides examples of the following:
- Black and Grey Morality: Sometimes sliding into Black And Black Morality regions. It's not the kind of movie in which covert agents don't get their hands dirty.
- Deep Cover Agent: Samir. And the 30 suicide bombers in the US.
- Fake Defector: Agent Carter presents Samir as such.
- Flock of Wolves: The bus passengers are all suicide bombers.
- Good Cop/Bad Cop: Special Agents Clayton and Archer, respectively. When Clayton offers Samir his freedom after interrupting a beating from Archer, Samir questions how "good" Clayton really is.Samir: "You want to know the difference between you and him? He at least knows he's an asshole."
- Hoist by His Own Petard: While dying in the line of duty is to be expected by suicide bombers, what the 30 terrorists who had trained to attack the United States did not expect was to be secretly put on the same bus by Samir.
- Hypocrite: The holy man who is exhorting the young men -most of them teenagers, actually- to don explosive suicide vests to carry out attacks in crowded areas. He's telling them it is their duty to Allah, that there is nothing more noble that to sacrifice the lives they were given to strike a blow against others, but it's perfectly clear that the piece of shit has absolutely no intention of putting on a vest himself.
- Interservice Rivalry: After the U.S. consulate in Nice, France is bombed, the FBI learns that the CIA, who is notoriously hesitant to share their information with other agencies, sat on a tip they found six months prior that could have helped prevent the attack.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Samir agrees to put the suicide bombers on a bus. As in, putting all of them on one bus.
- Pistol-Whipping: When Samir gets the drop on Agent Clayton while on the run from the FBI and forced him to kneel, Clayton was surprised to be clubbed in the back of the head by his own pistol rather than shot with it.Archer: "The real question is, why didn't he just shoot you?"Clayton: "Maybe because I didn't help you beat the hell out of him back in Yemen?"
- Oh, Crap!: When Samir tries to maintain his cover, he improvises a fight with his contact, pretending that he was assaulted only to get his contact shot dead. The contact was also the only person who knew that Samir is a Deep Cover Agent.
- Prepare to Die: Played with in the Samir and Clayton scene mentioned above. Samir asks Clayton if he knows Lord's Prayer and tells him to pray, all while aiming pistol at the back of his head. It appears that the prayer was to hide the sound of gun being de-cocked.
- Ripped from the Headlines: The film tries to portray extremist acts of terrorism objectively - and does so pretty well.
- Say Your Prayers: Well, the movie abounds with Muslim suicide bombers, so it is only to be expected. Also Samir near the end of the movie, when he decides to make a final move.
- Tap on the Head: Averted. When Samir tries to subdue Clayton by hitting in the back of the head, it leaves the latter dazed but conscious.
- Title Drop: Done by Omar when Samir shoots Fareed and Nathir.
- The War on Terror: Level Red - Terrorism and counter-terrorism are the whole point of the movie.