Director: John Woo
Writer: Philip K. Dick (short story), Dean Georgaris (screenplay)
Stars: Ben Affleck, Aaron Eckhart, Uma Thurman, Paul Giamatti
Runtime: 119 min
Genre: Action, Mystery, Sci-Fi
Released: 25 Dec 2003
Synopsis: Michael Jennings is a reverse engineer and what he does is technical jobs for certain companies and as soon as he is done, his memory of the work he has done is wiped out. Now the longest he has been contracted is 2 months. But now billionaire, James Rethrick offers him a job that would last 2 years, maybe 3, and he promises that he will probably earn 8 figures. Michael agrees. Before beginning he turns in all of his personal effects. And when the job is done, his memory is erased and he learns he made over 90 million dollars over the three years. When he goes to claim it and his personal effects, he discovers that prior to the erasure of his memory he waived his rights to the money he earned and that the items that were given to him were not the ones he gave when he began. Later he is arrested by the FBI who say that he committed some act of treason and murder. It’s while he is in custody that he escapes using some the items that he was given. He later meets with a friend who gives him some information that helps him understand what is going on. And at the same time Rethrick for some reason wants him so he is being pursued by Rethrick’s people.
In the near future, Michael Jennings is a reverse engineer; he analyzes his clients’ competitors’ technology and recreates it, often adding improvements beyond the original specifications. To protect his clients’ intellectual property and himself, Jennings, with the aid of his friend Shorty, undertakes a memory wipe to remove knowledge of his engineering.
Jennings is approached by his old college roommate, James Rethrick, the CEO of the successful Seattle technology company Allcom. Rethrick proposes a lengthy three-year reverse engineering job to Jennings, requiring him to live on Allcom’s secured campus until its conclusion but rewarding him handsomely with company stock. Jennings agrees, and after arranging for his long-term absence, arrives at Allcom, turns in his personal possessions, and is given a brief tour of the facility where he meets and flirts with botanist Dr. Rachel Porter. He is injected with a long-term memory marker for the post-job memory wipe.
Jennings and Porter return to Allcom and make their way to the machine room undetected, jamming the door behind them. Jennings determines the location of the defective circuit and removes it, subsequently rigging the machine to explode in a few minutes. Jennings uses the machine one last time, seeing a vision of himself being shot by an FBI agent in the catwalks above the machine. Soon, Rethrick’s men storm the room, and after a brief firefight, Jennings and Porter escape to the catwalks. Rethrick is waiting there, holding them at gunpoint, the same tableau Jennings previously saw. When Jennings’ watch, taken from the envelope, beeps, Jennings ducks in time to avoid the FBI agent’s bullet which ends up killing Rethrick. The machine is destroyed, and Jennings and Porter escape from the FBI in the chaos. When the FBI agents arrive and investigate, they take sympathy and report Jennings killed in the destruction.
In the film’s conclusion, Jennings, Porter, and Shorty have opened a greenhouse nursery. Jennings recalls a fortune cookie note from the envelope, and discovers one last act he had done with the machine, predicting the results of a 90 million dollar lottery and leaving the winning ticket in Porter’s birdcage.