The President of the United States Henry Ashton (William Hurt) is in Salamanca, Spain, about to address the city in a public square. We see a plain-clothes cop, his girlfriend Veronica (Ayelet Zurer) with another man, a mother and child, an American tourist Howard Lewis (Forest Whitaker) with a video camera, and a Secret Service agent Thomas Barnes (Dennis Quaid) newly returned from medical leave. Shots ring out and the President falls; a few minutes later, we hear a distant explosion, then a bomb goes off in the square. Those minutes are retold, several times, emphasizing different characters' actions. Gradually, we discover who's behind the plot. Is the Secret Service one step ahead, or have the President's adversaries thought of everything?