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US President Ashton comes to Salamanca, Spain to give a speech at an anti-terrorist summit in a public plaza when he is suddenly shot. Just as he is pulled away, two bomb explosions go off, throwing more chaos to the mix. The plot advances then through the POVs of different characters, literally rewinding back to before the incident to show the next one's. In the process a number of twists happen, revealing that there is more going on behind than what seems to be at first.
Notable for its All-Star Cast.
- Acrofatic: Becomes almost ridiculous when you realize that chubby Forrest Withaker has to have run faster than men way more in shape than him and even cars at maximum speed to succeed in saving the little girl at the end.
- All-Star Cast: William Hurt is the President; Dennis Quaid and Matthew Fox, his bodyguards; Zoe Saldana and Sigourney Weaver are reporters broadcasting the event; Forrest Withaker is an American tourist caught by the event; Eduardo Noriega is a local cop and Saïd Taghmaoui the head of the terrorist cell.
- Bilingual Bonus: One angry driver screams "THE HELL ARE YOU DOING YOU MORON?!" at Enrique in a hilarious Castilian accent.
- Big Heroic Run: Enrique, Barnes, Howard.
- Black Dude Dies First: Zoe Saldanha's character is killed already in the first segment. Also, the two Spanish cops are the only POV characters that are killed.
- Body Double: A major plot twist, since the "President" who gets shot is really the body double, and some maneuvering has to be done at the end when the real president is rescued, and it helps that he was actually injured and can pass of the public shooting as being something he survived.
- California Doubling: Set in Salamanca, Spain. Filmed in Mexico.
- Car Chase: The climax of the movie.
- The Chessmaster: Suarez is always one step ahead.
- Cross Cultural Kerfluffle: A minor one, but the Spanish and Europeans in general aren't generally so prone to flag-waving as Americans, let alone when the event is a speech by the US president (?).
- Dark Action Girl: Verónica
- Did Not Do the Research: The writer seems to have trouble deciding if these are Western Terrorists or Muslim ones, or knowing that there are differences between them. Not even Spanish Muslims have Spanish names (which honor Christian saints for the most part), let alone Moroccans.
- Fake Nationality: The only Spanish actor in the movie is Eduardo Noriega.
- Flashed Badge Hijack: Except there is no badge, because Barnes is not in the USA (which only makes the whole thing, ahem, illegal).
- Gambit Pileup
- Jigsaw Puzzle Plot
- The Masquerade: The Secret Service knows there is a threat, so they send a double of the president to the summit. When the double is shot down, they immediately think about ordering a retaliation strike against a terrorist camp, but stop when they realize that the US president has to order it and he can't because "he" has been shot down on live TV. At the end of the day, the whole terrorist plot and the kidnapping attempt on the real president is covered... somehow... as the work of "a lone gunman" who has been "arrested".
- The Mole: One of the president's bodyguards is actually working (inexplicably) for the terrorists.
- The Mountains of Illinois: Only the air shots were filmed in the real Salamanca, which is located in a flat, dry plain. This causes continuity errors during the chase scene (filmed in Cuernavaca, Mexico) where heavily forested mountains can be seen behind the buildings. And that's ignoring the out of place palm trees and humid-soaked buildings.
- Our Presidents Are Different: President Target meets President Personable. Also manages to help in his own rescue.
- Plot Twist: Where to begin. The man shot wasn't the actual President but a stand-in. The terrorists know that and the shooting and bombings are just a distraction to capture the real one. The Secret Service weren't the ones that killed the cop, he was murdered by another local cop that was being blackmailed by the terrorists. Also, one of the Secret Service Agents is a traitor. And the little girl that Forrest saves is the one that derails the terrorists plot, no kidding.
- Post Nine Eleven Terrorism Movie
- The Rashomon: Abandoned in the third act of the movie.
- Television Geography: Those who have been to the real Salamanca will notice immediately that it wasn't shot there. Those who have not will suspect something given all the American-brand cars, Mexico City buses and green beetle taxis or the STOP sign near the end that reads "ALTO" (in Spain they read STOP, in English).
- Terrorist Without a Cause: So, what was their real plan?
- Too Soon: Heavily averted. The original script was written in 2004, and it was set in Madrid. The producers changed the setting to Salamanca because they wanted something "more exotic".
- Unreliable Narrator: The POV segments sometimes show things that didn't really happen, but the POV character thought had happened.
- The War on Terror
- We All Live in America: It's set in Spain, yet the Secret Service are seen seizing cars from the locals, as well as chasing, arresting and shooting them, even cops. Plenty of wars have started over much less.
- Wouldn't Hurt a Child: The terrorist plot is derailed because the girl terrorist can't kill a little girl... after having planted two bombs which probably killed dozens.