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Douglas Freeman (Jake Gyllenhaal), a CIA analyst based in North Africa, is forced to question his assignment after he witnesses the brutal and unorthodox interrogation of an Egyptian-American by secret North African police.
When Anwar El-Ibrahimi (Omar Metwalley), an Egyptian-American chemical engineer whose family emigrated to the United States when he was a boy, is suspected of a terrorist act, his pregnant wife, Isabella El-Ibrahimi (Reese Witherspoon), does everything in her power to find her missing husband, who has seemingly disappeared during a flight from Cape Town, South Africa to Washington, D.C.
She enlists the help of a politically-connected college friend, Alan Smith (Peter Sarsgaard), an aid to Senator Hawkins (Alan Arkin), who uncovers the troubling fact that Anwar has been shipped off to a third World country for interrogation on the orders of the CIA's head of terrorism, Corrine Whitman (Meryl Streep).
Isabella and Douglas team up to secure Anwar's release from a secret detention facility somewhere in the Middle East.