This earnest thriller confronts urban terrorism head-on; however, its frightening depiction of bombings and repressive martial law in NY is undercut by muddled political thinking and a conventional storyline. Moslem fanatics are pitted against three conflicting forces of 'good': Washington's FBI anti-terrorism task force, Bening's National Security Agency operation, and rogue army general Willis. Reinforcing a self-conscious sense of fair play, Edward Zwick includes reams of special pleading on behalf of law-abiding Arab-Americans. Brilliantly captured by Roger Deakins' bleached-out camerawork and Steve Rosenblum's urgent editing, the best scenes are those depicting Washington's impotence in the face of a ruthless bombing campaign that culminates in a suicide attack on FBI HQ. Utterly absurd is Willis's slide from gung-ho patriot to 'might is right' megalomaniac, while not even Washington can lend credibility to lines like, 'If we torture this man, we've already lost.'