The film starts off showing a group of marines jogging on their military base. We then hear a narration from Sam Cahill (Tobey McGuire) explaining how much he loves his wife, Grace (Natalie Portman). As he is narrating, he is writing her a letter dated October 2007. He seals the envelope of the letter and gives it to his commanding officer. He tells him to give this to her in case he doesn't come back, in which the marine says that hopefully that won't have to happen and that he'll see him when he gets back.
Sam is seen driving his truck home. We cut to Grace giving one of their daughters, Maggie, a bath. Sam walks in and Maggie immediately greets him with a very excited, "Hi, Daddy!" Grace and Sam say hi to each other and share a loving kiss. Sam then goes into the girls' bedroom, where the other daughter Isabella, is reading a book. Isabella is older, maybe around 7. Sam says hi, and Isabella, casually and quietly says hi. Sam asks what’s wrong and Isabella doesn't reply. After a few more attempts of her dad asking her what’s wrong and upping the ante on how many kisses he is going to give her, she replies that she is upset that he is leaving again. Sam explains that it is his job, and that he will be back. He continues to joke around with her until he says "there's that smile" and they laugh and tickle and wrestle. Maggie comes running in and jumps on her dad's back. They all lovingly wrestle and Grace stands in the doorway smiling at her family. She then says, O.K., leave daddy alone he has to get going. They all say, no, don't go. Sam says he has to and that he will be right back. As he is leaving, he says to Grace, “I have to go, he is my brother.” Grace says, “He doesn’t deserve you.”
We then cut to Tom (Jake Gyllenhall) being escorted down a prison corridor by a prison guard. He is handcuffed and the arms and feet in prison clothing. Various prisoners in the cells yell things at him. He is rougher looking . . . he as a scruffy beard and a few tattoos on his neck and arms. Sam is waiting outside the prison. Tom comes out and Sam gets out of his truck . . . they meet on the sidewalk, pause for a moment and then give each other a hug. The next scene is of the two of them riding in the truck, laughing, telling jokes, and getting along. They stop at an intersection in town; we are then shown on one of the corners of the intersection, a bank. They both stare at the bank, and Sam says, "Do you ever think about apologizing to that woman?" Tom says, "The light is green." They drive another block or so, and Sam drops Tom off at a pawnshop asking him what he is going to do. Tom says he is going to cash a check and figure something out. Sam sarcastically says, "don't rob the place." Tom smiles at the comment, but still gives him a comment back. You can tell that regardless of their different lifestyles, they are brothers and they love each other.
Later that night, Grace is in the kitchen cooking with an older woman (implied to be a grandmother). She gets a ham out of the oven, but has nowhere to set it. She says, "I don't know how you stand working in this kitchen." Grace implies that they will get around to fixing it up someday. We are shown that the kitchen is mainly just tables and shelves put together. There isn't really any casework, no wall cabinets. All their glasses and plates rest on the countertop or on the shelves. The doorbell rings, and Maggie answers the door. Tom is there and asks, "Are you Isabella?" Maggie replies, "No, Isabella is bigger. Are you Uncle Tommy?" Tom is replies yes, to which Maggie says my mommy doesn't like you. Grace then comes up and briefly scolds her with a "Maggie!" Grace then shows Tom into the dining room where Sam and his family, the grandmother, and the grandfather are. Tom also sits down for dinner. They say their prayers and the grandmother (who you find out at some point is not Tom and Sam's birth mother), says that this is a very special dinner because they are welcoming one son home and sending one son off. Tom is pretty quiet and shy for the beginning of the meal. The grandfather talks about how proud he is of Sam and that Tom should be thankful and respectful of his brother for serving his country. You can tell that there is tension between Tom and his father. Tom asks Sam when he leaves, to which Sam replies Tuesday. Tom is scraping all of the peas off of his plate. Isabella asks what he is doing. Tom says, "I hate peas." Isabella gets a little smile and says me too. Sam smiles, but firmly says, "Isabella each your peas." She lowers her head and obediently does. The daughters continue to make child like comments about what their dad does while away. Isabella says he only shoots the bad guys. Tom asks who the bad guys are, to which she replies, the men with beards. The grandpa continues to talk about how proud he is of Sam and how every family has issues. Tom then replies, “Yep, every family has issues” (simply agreeing with his dad). The grandpa then replies, “What is that supposed to mean?” Tom, somewhat surprised, says, “that every family has issues.” Tom gives Sam a puzzled look to which Sam simply looks back implying to just ignore the comment. The grandpa says something else to try to get under Tom’s skin. Sam simply gives him a firm “Dad!” Tom looks away and tries to change the subject and says “great food Elsie (the grandmother)” the grandpa replies “Compared to what?” Tom, once again puzzled, says compared to other foods. The grandpa says, “Compared to prison food!” Tom gets furious and slams his hands on the table. Sam yells out a “Tom!” The grandfather gets pissed and leaves (with Elsie). Later, Tom and Jake exchange a few words, and Jake leaves, walking to his next destination.
Sam and Grace are in their bathroom, getting ready for bed. Sam says, “It won’t come off.” Grace replies, “try more soap.” He is then shown trying to pull off his wedding ring under running water, to which he finally gets it off. He gives it to Grace and she puts it on a necklace around her neck. Sam turns back around and looks in the mirror. He is fairly built, and looks healthy and happy. Grace gently kisses his back, Sam turns around and they start kissing. They are then in bed (nothing shown, just implied), they are lovingly talking and joking around. We then see Tom sitting in a crowded bar, drinking alone.
Sam is then shown riding in a humvee, he is narrating, saying “Afghanistan, it feels weird to be back, but it somewhat feels like home. It feels good to be with my men.” We are shown a montage of him doing various operations with his men, video of citizens of Afghanistan, etc. Intermixed with the montage are scenes of Grace working as a teacher and going about her life as a mom. Next Sam is on a helicopter with his men flying over a lake. He asks the pilot how long until the destination, he replies “three minutes.” He yells and signs “three minutes” to his men. They were all joking around, but then immediately reply “three minutes.” Just then something hits the side of the copter, and a small explosion goes off, blowing off the side of the helicopter. One of the men falls out. The pilot is saying mayday into his headset; smoke is seen coming off of the helicopter spinning out of control. Then, he says, “I got it, I got it” stabilizing the helicopter. Just then a bright flash appears in front of the helicopter and the screen goes black.
Grace is in the bathtub. Two marines, in their “dress blues”, come up to her home. Maggie and Isabella answer the door, and the marines ask if they can get their mom. Just then she comes down the stairs in her bathrobe. Seeing who is at the door, she immediately gets a look of panic/sadness. Her kids ask what’s wrong and she says to go play and she’ll be there in a minute. She comes to the door. Nothing is said . . . and she begins to cry.
Grace is then shown snuggling with her kids that night . . . watching home videos. Later that night, her kids are sleeping, and she is calling Sam’s voicemail, just to hear his voice. She then hears Sam’s truck pull up. She goes to the front door and finds Tom, putting the keys back under the rug. Clearly drunk, he says, sorry, Sam said I could borrow the truck whenever I wanted. Grace doesn’t say anything, Tom says, “its fine, its fine, Sam said I could borrow it, its fine, except the taillight is a little busted, I don’t know, some asshole . . . (he trails off).” He then says, “You know, you just stand there with your pissed off look and judge me . . .” Grace interrupts “Sam’s dead!” She explains that they crashed. Tom pauses . . . “What! Why didn’t you call me” Grace says I did, I’ve been trying to reach you forever!” Tom drunkenly says “Why didn’t anybody call me?!!” Grace says, we’ve all been trying to call you! Tom replies, “Don’t! (he mumbles some stuff)” Grace tries to calm him down, but he drunkenly stumbles away and chucks the keys back at Grace.
Tom is then shown sitting outside his parent’s house. Elsie comes out and says why don’t you come in. He doesn’t answer for a while, and then agrees. Once inside, his dad is seen drinking at the kitchen table. He asks if he wants a drink, and he says no.
We then cut to a group of bearded men walking with AK-47’s, and Sam and another soldier are their prisoners. They are both pretty banged up.
Grace and her daughters are getting ready for Sam’s funeral service. The daughters complain about not wanting to wear their black dresses. They debate for a little bit, but Grace gives in, letting them wear whatever they want. Maggie asks her mom, “Is daddy really dead like your mom and dad?” At the funeral, various marines and community members come up to Grace and Sam’s dad (who we now learn is named Hank and was also in the service). They say what a good marine, or man he was. Sam’s commanding officer (the one at the beginning) says that he was the finest marine he has ever commanded, and gives Grace the letter. She doesn’t read it yet. Hank is frequently taking sips from a flask. Tom and Hank are walking to the car. Tom asks his dad if he wants him to drive. He replies with a “what are you talking about?” He is somewhat tipsy. Tom again asks for the keys, and hank says he is fine and that he can drive. They come to the car and Isabella and Maggie get in, and Elise asks for the keys. He gives her the Same response. This time Tom firmly says “Dad, give me the keys.” They then both start shouting and arguing. Hank saying that Tom has never and any guts and is a screw-up; Tom saying that it’s his Dad’s fault that Sam is in the marines because he shoved it down their throats as kids. Hank gets pissed, gives up the keys and walks home. Grace watches the whole thing in disbelief.
Sam and the other surviving soldier are taken to a small camp in a rocky setting in Afghanistan. They are put into a hole/makeshift cell, made of wood and rocks and boards are nailed over the opening. They can still see out the side and top. The bearded men are going through the soldiers’ belongings. They pull out pictures of the other man’s wife and kid. Sam asks “Is that your kid?” “Yes,” the soldier replies. Sam asks “Is that your wife?” “Yes,” the soldier replies. “Wrong!!” Sam replies. You do not have a wife, or a kid, we are Captain Cahill and Private Willis! Stay quiet, and give them nothing! It is you and me! That is all!” “Yes sir,” replies Willis.
Grace is awake at 3 in the morning, ironing. Tom calls, drunk, and asks for her to come pick him up and pay his bar tab. She does, and yells at him because he is goofing around with the bartender when she arrives. They arrive back at Grace’s home and Tom sleeps on the couch. He wakes up, hung-over, to Maggie, stirring pancake batter right in front of Tom. He is irritated, but wakes up and Isabella and Maggie are making pancakes to surprise their mom. Grace comes in and is surprised. Hank shows up at the backdoor, and greets Grace and the girls. Grace and the girls then all go into the living room to eat pancakes. Tom and his dad apologize for their argument the other day. Tom then says he was never as good as Sam. Hank says that it wasn’t that Tom wasn’t good; it was just that he was a quitter. Hank then says that Sam was a great athlete, and that Tom had potential too, but always quit when he got frustrated. Tom agrees and they basically calm down their negative feelings for each other.
Sam and Willis are watching the bearded men, when some helicopters fly by and the men panic and hide. They realize that they are looking for them and that there is a shred of hope. However, Willis gets frustrated and says that they have been intentionally starving us for 2 months . . . and basically complains about the situation. Sam picks up a rock and starts to push up the boards on the opening. A gun is slid through an opening and pointed at them they stop. They gun goes away. Willis asks if they are going to try again, and Sam replies not now.
Grace comes home one day and finds a contractor van in her driveway. She walks in and finds Tom and a group of workers/buddies, starting to renovate the kitchen. She pulls Tom aside and expresses a little bit of frustration, but then offers the guys something to drink. They want beer.
Sam and Willis are then taken out of the hole, and Sam reminds him to not say anything, and that it is just them and to give them nothing. However, Willis keeps asking questions “like where are they taking us, and calling Sam, captain” Sam keeps aggressively telling him to shut up. They are put in the back of a pickup truck with armed men and driven off.
In the meantime, we see that Grace is starting to breakdown over the loss of Sam, not getting out of bed, not sleeping well, etc. She still hasn’t read the letter, and at various times pulls it out, but doesn’t open it. We see Tom and one of the buddies (Ethan Suplee) helping the girls paint the kitchen. Grace comes in, and there is some friendly chatter. All of a sudden Maggie accidentally spills the tray of paint on one of the guys who was working under the sink. It gets all over him and he gets pissed. They tell him to calm down. And Grace says she might have something else for him to wear. She goes upstairs and starts to go through Sam’s clothes in the closet. It makes her smile, but then she starts to lightly cry, and violently pulls a lot of his clothes off the hangers. In the meantime, the guy who got the paint spilled on him is standing in the kitchen in his underwear, and all the guys are teasing him about how out of shape he is (very funny). Grace comes in and lays a large pile of clothes on the counter. She says to take them all. He says he only needs a t-shirt and jeans. She insists on him taking it all and he finds what he needs and says that that’ll do. Grace gets teary eyed and leaves the room. Ethan Suplee, tells him he needs to take it all and Tom goes to check on Grace, who explains that it is still really hard without Sam.
The next day, Tom, Grace, and the kids go ice-skating, and they are all having lots of fun together. It is made clear the Tom is really making a connection with the girls and they love having “uncle Tommy” around. As they are crossing a bridge over a river, Tom tells Isabella a story about how her dad saved him from drowning in that river when they were kids. Tommy almost died drowning, but Sam pulled him out. In the meantime, Sam and Willis are taken to a larger camp with a lot more men. (I kind of lost the point of this scene and what they were saying) But essentially, there is another man there, who is one of their own that did something wrong. They shoot him in the head in front of Sam and Willis, meanwhile videotaping everything. They tell them that Afghanistan is their country and the USA should leave the country alone and let them run it as they see fit. Willis and Sam are then separated and Sam is put into a separate, cave like hole, with a guard standing at the top of a tall rock type wall. As they are being separated, Sam once again reminds him not to say anything. He replies “yes sir.”
The kitchen is finished on Grace’s birthday, she walks into the house and sees a variety of signs that lead her to the kitchen and a bunch of people jump out and yell surprise. The kitchen looks great and Grace silently mouths to Tom “thank you” He nods. It is then revealed that Willis’s wife and kid are actually friends of the Cahill family. Grace and the wife make a few comments about how brave their husbands were.
Sam and Willis are brought back together and are told that they will need to start giving up information on their mission, implying torture. They both say nothing. They drag Sam away and four men come up and grab Willis. Sam once again yells to give them nothing. Sam is put into a cell where he can see what is happening. The men hold Willis down to the ground, and a man with a hot piece of iron walks up to him. We don’t see what happens, but Sam’s eyes gets wide and we hear Willis screaming, extremely loud, yelling in pain, but threatening all of their lives . . . “I’m going to fucking kill you you mother fuckers. . . .so on and so on”
Tom is smoking a cigarette outside of the bank. A woman walks up behind him and he hides his face as she passes. He looks back at her, with a remorseful face. Later that night, Tom and Grace are sitting by a fire, listening to music. Tom is telling how he talked to the lady for an hour. Grace asks what she said. Tom says he apologized for pointing a gun at her and Tom says that she didn’t sleep right for three years and always dreamt that he was coming to get her and hurt her. He said that he wasn’t coming for her and would never hurt her. The woman started crying and thanked him. Grace says then what, and Tom says that she asked him if he wanted to open up an account and he did. He jokingly says he can’t wait to start bouncing checks. He then turns up the radio and says when he was 17 he used to listen to this song (some 90’s rock song, don’t quite remember) over and over. Grace says me too! Tom looks at her in disbelief, and says that he always figured her for an N’sync fan. Tom pulls out a joint, and starts smoking it (I know, kind of out of left field). Grace says that she is not the square everyone thinks she is. Tom says that he just assumed since she was a cheerleader. And Grace replies, and I married the high school quarterback, I’m such a cliché. She then takes a couple of hits of Tom’s joint, and Tom says he starting to think of her differently. They look at each other for a few seconds. Tom leans in and kisses her, and Grace very passionately kisses him back. They kiss for a couple more seconds, and then they both awkwardly pull away. There is a pause, and Grace says that she has to get something. Tom leaves. Grace is in bed crying, and once again debated opening the letter, but just plays with Sam’s ring on her necklace.
Back in Afghanistan, we are shown Private Willis being tortured with a hot piece of iron. They are pressing it on his bare legs.
Back home, Tom shows up at Grace’s door the next morning. There is an awkward pause, and Tom says that he brought molding for the cabinets. He is installing the molding; Hank stops by, and positively criticizes how responsible and handy Tom has become. He remarks about spending time with the girls and how nice it is.
Afghanistan: Sam is brought out of his cave prison and into the center of camp, where all the bearded men are, and they are videotaping. They show how Willis broke and gave them the video message they wanted: how America shouldn’t be there and let the country of Afghanistan be with its citizens. You can tell Sam is upset, but doesn’t say anything. Willis is brought out; he is exhausted and can’t even stand. He is put next to Sam, and Willis continues to rest on his knees. One of the bearded men’s boys brings a large lead pipe to Sam. He is told to take it, which he does. The bearded men then instruct Sam to kill Willis! Sam looks at them puzzled and throws the pipe on the ground. One of the bearded men explains that he is a waste of food and water. He is no longer useful to them and that if he doesn’t kill him they will cut his head off. Sam looks down at Willis, who just looks back in tears. Sam shakes his head no, and Willis begins to panic and say ‘no, please, no’ the bearded men all start shouting and the scene becomes very tense. One of the bearded men (one that speaks English), comes up to Sam and picks up the lead pipe and instructs him to take it. He then pulls a gun on Sam and puts it right to his head. He says “Do you have family? Do you ever want to see them again? If you do not kill him, I will kill you, and then we will kill him.” Everyone is continuing to shout, Willis is crying and panicking, the man with the gun is also yelling, and pulls back the hammer on the gun, finally, Sam screams, takes the pipe, and whacks Willis in the head, he continually bashes Willis in the head, smashing his head in (not shown), he does this for about 10 whole seconds, yelling the whole time. Finally, he throws the pipe on the ground, and says “There, there I did it!” yelling it, as tears come into his eyes.
We go back to Colorado, and more time is shown with Uncle Tommy and the girls getting along.
In Afghanistan, helicopters and gunfire awaken Sam. The guard at the top of the hole is trying to shoot down and hit Sam. Sam hides behind some rocks. The guard then shoots up at the sky at the helicopters. The guard is then shot, and falls down into the pit. Sam runs out of the cave and is met by marines. We see the video camera that was taping everything, burning on the ground.
The next day, Tom is outside building a snowman with Isabella and Maggie. They are playing and have a snowball fight. Tom picks up the head of the snowman and throws it on Isabella. She doesn’t move. Grace is looking outside the window. Tom gently says, Isabella, Isabella, Isabella! Getting louder each time. He then looks at the window and calls for Grace. Grace panics for a second, but then Isabella jumps up joking the whole time. Grace and Tom smile with relief. The phone rings and Grace answers it. She says “Hello?” “This is she.” She then backs into a chair and sits down. She starts crying but has a giant smile on her face. Tom sees this through the window. He runs and asks what’s up. The girls come in and exclaim that they want to keep playing. Grace looks at all of them with a smile, and tears continuing to run down her face.
We see an airplane land back in Colorado. Sam gets off and is greeted by a few marines, who all salute him. He walks up to the military airport, his girls run out and give him hugs; he hugs Grace, then Tom, the Elsie and hank. Not much is said, other than hank saying how proud he is of his son. It is also at this point that we really notice a difference in his appearance. He is really thin, and does not look as healthy (plus the scars and wounds from the crash and being captive).
Grace, Sam, and the girls all come home. They show Sam the kitchen, he says it looks great. He asks who built it, and the girls reply “we did.” He smiles. He walks around the house, exploring, not much is said. He goes up to his and Grace’s bedroom. He lies on the bed. Grace asks, “Are you tired, honey?” Sam doesn’t reply. He scoots over into the middle of the bed. And says “Come into bed. Everyone.” The girls rush in and snuggle with their dad/husband. They lay there for a few seconds, and Maggie asks, “Mommy, can I leave now, I want to go play.”
Later, Tom, Grace and the girls are ice-skating, and Sam is sitting on a picnic table watching and smiling. It is snowing fairly hard. The four skaters are laughing and playing. Tom skates over and sits next to Sam. Sam says “I want to thank you for helping out, and watching over them.” Tom just smiles. Sam says “I just want to thank you for being there, especially for Grace.” Tom, again, smiles and is silently saying “no problem” Sam, out of nowhere asks, “Did you fuck her?” Tom is shocked, and looks away. Sam, still with a smile says, “I wouldn’t be mad, I get it, everyone thought I was dead. I just want to know.” Tom looks back at Sam and lovingly but firmly wraps his arm around him and says “Hey, what’s wrong with you? What’s going on in your head?” Sam says, “It’s just that you two look like teenagers in love out there. There’s no denying that.” Tom again, grasps Sam and says “Hey. C’mon.” Sam gets rid of his smile and says “Don’t bullshit me Tom. Don’t bullshit me.”
Sam is later shown in the kitchen looking around. He hears a noise outside and pulls a gun from his back pocket. Sees nothing, and puts it away. Grace and Willis’s wife are in the other room talking. She talks about how their son (who is a baby crawling around the room) reminds her of her husband, and how sometimes she feels like the baby knows exactly what she is thinking. The baby crawls into the passageway into the kitchen and Sam and the baby just stare at each other. Willis’s wife continues to say how she has a continuing dream about how she is in Willis’s presence as he is dying, and Sam comes up to her, but for some reason she is mad at him. She says that’s why she wanted to come over, to apologize for being mad. She goes to pick up the baby and is somewhat startled by Sam standing there. She asks Sam if she saw Willis die. He doesn't say and his guilt intensifies.
Later, Sam is shaving in the bathroom. We get another glimpse at how skinny he has gotten. Grace comes in and Sam looks shocked. He says “I locked that door.” Grace says, “It’s broken.” Grace walks over to Sam. At this point, we get a view of Sam’s back; there are a ton of scars and marks. She traces her fingers along them, and then gently begins to kiss his back (like in the beginning). He says “I’m just going to finish shaving.” Grace stops and walks away.
That night at dinner Grace, Sam and the girls are eating. Sam looks stern. Isabella is talking about school and how there is a boy whose dog she likes because it has big floppy ears, but she can’t remember the dog’s name. Maggie says, “Um . . . is its name elephant?” Both the girls laugh and Grace smiles and begins to laugh too. Sam laughs a little as well, but asks Maggie why that’s funny. Maggie says, “because of the big ears.” Sam says, “I know, but why is that funny.” Maggie continues to explain the relationship between the two animals. Sam says, but the dog isn’t named elephant.” Maggie says, I know, but they both have big ears, if you think about it, it’s funny.” Sam, says, I guess I don’t see why it’s funny. Grace gently grabs Sam’s hand and says, “hey, its O.K., relax” Sam quickly gets up and leaves the table. Grace follows him. She finds him with his head in his hands sitting in their bedroom. She comes up to him and says “Sam, talk to me, what’s wrong?” Sam says “I think you fucked Tommy.” Grace is shocked. And tries to calm him with a “Sam.” “Did you fuck Tommy?” Sam says. Grace says, “we kissed, that was it.” Sam smiles and says, “You were honest with me.” Grace says, “I was, now you be honest with me, what are you thinking?” Sam says, “I think you fucked Tommy,” he gets up and leaves the house.
He is seen visiting Willis’s gravesite. He is shown walking around town. It is morning and he finally comes home, he comes through the backyard where the girls are playing. When they see Sam, they stop playing. Sam walks up and says very friendly and smiling “Hey, girls.” They both quietly reply “Hi daddy.” Sam continues to walk closer, and Isabella backs away, and looks pretty terrified. Sam asks what’s wrong, they don’t really answer. He tries to cheer them up, and they just kind of look at him. He says “Why did the girl blush when she opened the refrigerator door?” The girls boringly reply “Because they saw the salad dressing.” Sam says “Oh, I told you that one already?” They both say “Yes.” And Maggie says “Like a hundred times.” Sam smiles and says, o.k. have fun playing and give your dad a hug. We see Isabella go in for a hug. While hugging him she has a frown on her face. When her dad looks at her face again before going inside, she quickly changes it to a halfhearted smile. As he is walking in, she looks away, and gets an extremely terrified look on her face and begins to cry. Grace and Sam talk inside. Sam says that he was just out thinking and walking. Thinking about her and the kids, and then the sun came up.
We next see Sam back at the military base. He goes into his commanding officer’s office and says he is ready to go back to Afghanistan and wants to go back. His officer asks how things are with the wife and kids, he says good, but that he doesn’t feel like he is home and that he can’t do it (function with his family). His commanding officer asks how the counseling is going. Sam says with a smile, “good, really good.” The officer says that he will take is request into consideration but it will most likely be a while before they are able to make anything happen. Another time, Sam is shown at home, up late at night rearranging everything in the kitchen, trying to make it look perfect.
Another night, they are having dinner at the grandparent’s house. Tom shows up with a new girl. It is Maggie’s birthday. They are talking about what military men are trained for, the new girl is talking a lot, and express an opinion that the rest of the family seems to not agree with. Tom bumps her arm telling her to stop. They start asking the new girl about her job. Meanwhile, Isabella takes one of Maggie’s new dolls and starts to play with it. Maggie, replies, hey don’t that’s my new doll. Sam sternly says “Isabella, give that to her.” Isabella looks very upset, and stares directly at her dad. Without breaking eye contact, she grabs another of Maggie’s new toys . . . Maggie again, cries out, Sam, more firmly this time says “Isabella.” He starts to make eye contact with Grace, who is listening to the adult conversation at the other end of the table. Sam is fixed in eye contact with his daughter. She then starts playing with her cake. Sam firmly says, “Don’t play with your cake.” She stops, and then screams out. Maggie gets everything for her birthday! She got everything she asked for and I didn’t get anything I asked for! Grace turns around and says “Isabella stop!” The whole time Sam and Isabella are still staring at each other. Isabella then pulls down one of the balloons in the room and starts playing with it, rubbing her hands on it so it makes a really annoying noise. Grace turns to her and says “Isabella, stop, we are trying to listen to our new guest.” She stops, but continues staring at her dad. Anytime Tom’s girl starts to talk, Isabella starts with the noise again. It happens about 4 or 5 times. Sam constantly switching gaze from his daughter to Grace, who is primarily paying attention to the conversation now. Finally, Sam reaches out across the table and grabs at the balloon, popping, yelling “Enough!” The whole room freezes. Isabella says back, “You are here for Maggie’s birthday and she gets everything and you missed my birthday, because you were in stupid Afghanistan.” Grace says “Isabella!” Isabella continues, “Why couldn’t you just stay dead!” Grace interjects again. Without even stopping, Isabella continues, “your just mad becomes mommy would rather sleep with Uncle Tommy than you!” Grace finally yells at her “Isabella, enough!!” Grace looks at Sam to read his reaction. He still has the wide-eyed upset look on his face. Maggie pipes in, can we go home now? I would like to go to bed.” The car ride home, no one talks, Sam looks stern and focused.
At home, Grace tucks the girls into bed. She asks why Isabella said the things she said. She says that she likes Uncle Tommy better, and that she doesn’t like daddy at all. Maggie agrees. Grace tells them not to worry, and that daddy will get better. Grace goes into her bedroom and sees Sam in the backyard throwing things at the barking dog in the yard next to theirs. She picks up the phone . . . We then see Tom, still at Hank and Elsie’s house grabbing his coat and running out of the house as Hank and Elsie say that it isn’t his business and to stay out of it. Elsie then looks at hank at says, you have to call the cops. Grace comes downstairs, and Sam is sitting in a rocking chair by the fireplace, quietly rocking, with a smile on his face. Sam asks where the girls are. Grace replies firmly, “they’re in bed Sam.” Sam replies “good,” still with a smile on his face. Graces asks, what is that? We then see that Sam is holding a fire poker in his hand. He gets up and starts walking towards Grace, who immediately gets out of his way. He bypasses her and goes into the kitchen. She comes around the corner and sees him standing in the middle of the kitchen. She starts gently shaking her head no, and crying. He takes the fire poker and swings it into some of the glass cabinets yelling, you wanna fuck him you fucking bitch over and over as he proceeds to destroy EVERYTHING in the kitchen. He is swearing a ton and just hitting everything. “f this f that” the kids run out of their room but stay at the top of the stairs. Sam throws the poker on the ground. He yells about how much he loves her and how could he do this to him. He proceeds to keep destroying everything with his bare hands. Opening the refrigerator and ripping it apart, he yells “do you know what I did! Do you know what I did to fucking get back to you, you fucking bitch! Do you know what I did . . . with these hands, these fucking hands!!!!” He then starts looking at his hands and smacking himself in the head and in the face. Grace is just standing there crying and shaking her head no, telling him to tell me, but pretty much letting him do his thing. All of a sudden Tom, comes from the other direction, Sam turns to see him and says, “What the fuck are you doing here?” Tom puts up his hands, as you would if you were approaching a scared animal. He approaches him very slowly. Tom has a very soothing, calm look on his face. Sam looks frightened, pissed, and shocked all at once. Tom slowly, slowly approaches him, wraps his arms around him and hugs him. Sam starts to come out of it, and starts to bring his arms up to hug him back; but then, we here the cop sirens in the background. Sam gets an even more pissed look on his face, and says “Did you call the cops on me? Did you call the cops on me?” He pulls the gun from his back and overpowers Tom and holds it to his head. Grace runs upstairs and yells at her kids to get in their room and lock the door. She stays up there in front of the door. Sam continues to hold the gun to Tom’s head asking if he called the cops?” Tom doesn’t say anything, but looks terrified and concerned. Sam sees a cop car pull in front of their house. He runs into the front yard waving the gun around. Yelling “is there a problem, here?!?!, some type of disturbance?!” Tom and Grace follow him outside, Grace in tears. The police keep telling him to put the weapon down, and how he is a war hero. Sam replies, you don’t know me, I’m no war hero. Do you know me?! He keeps spinning around waving the gun at everybody. A second squad car pulls up. Guns are drawn on Sam. He fires a couple of rounds into the air. The police and everyone continue to yell at him. All of a sudden Sam gets a look of realization on his face and holds the gun to his head. Grace screams, and everyone else has a similar reaction. He continues spinning around, and finally locks eyes with Tom. He says “I’m drowning Tommy.” He slowly starts to lower the gun and lets go of it, and then Sam drops to his knees. The cops come up and cuff him and take him away.
It then shows Grace in bed with her girls. They are both asleep, Grace is awake. She finally gets out the letter and opens it. It essentially says how much he loves her and that if she was reading it, that he didn’t make it back. She sets the letter down next to a picture of them as teenagers that they had shown periodically throughout the movie.
We then cut to Sam who is asleep in what appears to be a counseling center/mental health hospital. Tom is shown awake in bed. His phone rings, it is Sam. Tom asks if everything is O.K. Sam says that he thinks everything will be fine and that he just wanted to give him a call because he is his brother.
The next day, Sam is seen being escorted out of the center by an orderly. He says, O.K. sir, you know the drill. I’ll be back to get you in half an hour. He meets Grace on a bench in front of the institution. They just sit there for a minute. Grace says, Sam you have to talk to me. Sam says nothing. Grace starts to cry and says, Sam, I’ve loved you since I was sixteen, but if you don’t say something, you’ll never see me again. After an extremely long pause, he says “I killed him.” “Who?” replies Grace. “I killed John Willis.” The camera zooms out on them still sitting there, talking.
The movie ends with a narration from Sam basically saying that only the dead have seen the end of war.
*CUT TO THE CHASE*
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High School sweethearts Sam and Grace are happily married with two kids. Sam is a Captain in the Marines about to head back to Afghanistan. Sam's brother Tom is just getting released from prison.
Sam's helicopter is shot down and everyone is presumed dead. Back at home, Grace is told of his death and she, her kids, Sam's ex-marine father and the entire town are devastated.
Tom is slowly turning his life around and he andGrace are becoming more than just friends but the most they do is kiss, once.
Back in Afghanistan we discover that Sam and a Private survived the crash and are being held prisoners. In the most important scene of the movie, Sam is forced to kill the Private in order to save his own life. Later, the camp is attacked by the Americans and Sam is rescued.
Back home now, Sam is a completely different man, burdened with his secret and guilt about the Private.
Tensions rise and Sam accuses Grace of sleeping with Tom. The kids hate the person their dad has become. After a heated argument Sam threatens Tom's life with a gun but instead heads outside and is confronted by the police. It looks as though Sam is going to take his own life but is talked out of it by Tom. As the police are about to take him away Sam tells Tom, "I'm drowning."
Sam is sent to a military mental hospital where he finally confesses to Grace about what happened in Afghanstan.
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