The secret U.S. abduction of a suspected terrorist leads to a wave of terrorist attacks in New York City, which leads to the declaration of martial-law.


Edward Zwick


Lawrence Wright (story), Lawrence Wright (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
4,256 ( 823)
2 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Denzel Washington ... Anthony Hubbard
Annette Bening ... Elise Kraft / Sharon Bridger
Bruce Willis ... General William Devereaux
Tony Shalhoub ... Frank Haddad
Sami Bouajila ... Samir Nazhde
Ahmed Ben Larby Ahmed Ben Larby ... Sheik Achmed Bin Talal
Mosleh Mohamed Mosleh Mohamed ... Muezzin
Lianna Pai ... Tina Osu (as Liana Pai)
Mark Valley ... Mike Johanssen
Jack Gwaltney ... Fred Darius
David Proval ... Danny Sussman
Lance Reddick ... FBI Agent Floyd Rose
Jeremy Knaster Jeremy Knaster ... INS Official
William Hill ... INS Uniform
Aasif Mandvi ... Khalil Saleh


After the abduction by the US military of an Islamic religious leader, New York City becomes the target of escalating terrorist attacks. Anthony Hubbard, the head of the FBI's Counter-Terrorism Task Force in New York, teams up with CIA operative Elise Kraft to hunt down the terrorist cells responsible for the attacks. As the bombings continue, the US government responds by declaring martial law, sending US troops, led by Gen. Devereaux, into the streets of New York City. Written by Karen Eiler <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


On November 6th our freedom is history See more »


Action | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence, language and brief nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


According to an interview that screenwriter Lawrence Wright gave to CBS in 2007, the film was a box-office failure upon its theatrical release, "but it was the most-rented movie in America after 9/11." Wright also claimed that the initial release bombed because "Muslim and Arab protesters picketed the theaters. They were furious at being stereotyped as terrorists." See more »


A diesel powered bus backfires causing bystanders to drop to the ground and take cover. Unlike gasoline engines, diesel engines do not backfire, except during very serious mechanical engine failures. See more »


[a big discussion is underway about the fight against terrorism in New York City]
Chief of Staff: General?
General William Devereaux: The Army is a broadsword, not a scalpel. Trust me, senator, you do not want the Army in an American city.
Chief of Staff: But hypothetically... how long would it take you to deploy?
General William Devereaux: You know we can't go in until the President invokes the War Powers Act.
Chief of Staff: I understand that, General. Let's assume, for a moment, that the order has been given.
General William Devereaux: Twelve hours after the President gives the order we can be on the ground. One light ...
See more »

Alternate Versions

Some post-2001 versions have the World Trade Center digitally removed from the New York skyline. See more »


Featured in 73rd Golden Globe Awards (2016) See more »


First You Cry
Written by Buddy Flett and David Egan
Performed by Little Buster And The Soul Brothers
Courtesy of Rounder Records
by arrangement with Ocean Park Music Group
See more »

User Reviews

A bizarre prediction of 9/11/2001 ???
23 September 2001 | by gorillasuitguySee all my reviews

The movie won't get any nomination or prize, but it's worth seeing if you want to meditate about a time when US talked about the 'Greatest Terrorist Attack in America' only in a movie.

The first time I saw this movie I really got immersed into the plot, it was a great drama displaying the deployment of Army forces to protect the US integrity versus the struggle of the reason and the law to protect it's citizens rights... evidently the Arab-Americans would be angry about the stereotypes displayed, but also the Hispanic have been portrayed at Hollywood with the same old stereotypes thousands of times (which BTW it's boring), anyway, at the end it's all for the show and to make the movie believable... however it was ALL fiction.

But in the morning of Sept 11, 2001. The first thought that came to my mind (yet in disbelief), as I saw on CNN, planes falling all over NYC and in DC, was.. 'that' movie!

Days after the WTC Attack I saw this movie again and obviously (to my regret) I found many new things to meditate about, this movie makes an interesting remark about what almost every US government have done at least one time, the so called 'shift of policy', and this is the key to the whole mess (in the movie and in real life), US government can't pretend to look after some 'groups, organizations or people' when they are useful to their interest and when they no longer need them just dispose then like trash, remember, 'what goes around, comes around...', sure, I totally condemn terrorism, but as we can learn from the movie, this kind of behavior gives birth to extreme hate and enemies, and this is (or was) NO fiction.

You can't develop relations on a double moral standard, like the character played by Bening, sooner or later the price has to be paid, so, it's better to stand beside those who help you always, not only for pure convenience, because no one wants a 'friend' like that, right? This can be the great moral of the movie.

Be honest, construct relations on loyalty, learn to be tolerant, please stop thinking that US is the world, and tear down to the stereotypes, but mainly, be humble!

Personally I think it's a great movie that sadly portrays some similar events that a few years later (2001) became real, one can't be blame if at one point it's mistakenly thinking that this movie was an inspiration to the WTC Attacks.

Mr. Denzel Washington's (FBI Agent Anthony 'Hub' Hubbard) performance is powerful (as usual), the rest of the supporting cast did a good job too, Annette Bening's (Elise Kraft/Sharon Bridger) seems a little 'old' for the role but does an excellent job though.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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English | Arabic | Spanish

Release Date:

6 November 1998 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Blowback See more »


Box Office


$70,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$13,931,285, 8 November 1998

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | DTS (uncredited)



Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »

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