Arlington Road (1999)
Director: Mark Pellington
Summary[edit | edit source]
While driving home from work, Michael Faraday, a history professor whom works at the George Washington University, spots a boy stumbling in the middle of the street and asks if he's all right, until he sees how horribly burned his hand is and rushes him to the hospital. He meets the boys parents, Oliver and Cheryl Lang, his neighbors, whom they thank for saving their son, Brady. They claim that Brady was dared by his friends to set off a bunch of fireworks in the park after school. Brooke Wolfe, Faraday's girlfriend and former student and his son, Grant, are introduced into the Lang's home, and both families become fast friends. His friend and wife's former FBI partner, Whit Carver, checks up on Faraday and Grant to see how they are.
Grant later joins a scouts-style organization called Discoverer Troops and accompanies Brady on a camping trip. However, Faraday finds pieces of mail that contradict where Oliver, a structural engineer, said he attended college and finds blueprints to a project he has for the Reston Shopping Mall, but Faraday thinks it's an office building. Faraday teaches a class on terrorism ever since his wife, Leah, an FBI agent, was killed in the line of duty 3 years ago after being given "false information" of a supposed terror plot. His students appear uneasy during a field trip where the standoff had occured that resulted in Leah's death, where Faraday rants on how Bureau should pay for what they have done.
Meanwhile, Faraday does some digging, and discovers that Lang is actually William Fenimore, whom was 16, tried to blow up a post office in Wichita, KS. After telling Brooke this, she dismisses it as paranoia, while Faraday tries to convince her Lang has a blueprint that he does not want anyone to see. Having grown tired of his obsession with the Lang's, Brooke then breaks up with Michael and moves out of the house. Oliver confronts Faraday for looking into his past: Oliver built a pipe bomb to get back at the government after his father, a farmer, killed himself to make it look like an accident, which led to his crops dying, his farm went broke, and the river that ran behind his farm was repurposed for other uses. His father left a suicide note, as well as instructions on how to build a bomb, but he was caught and did time for it. He tells Faraday that Oliver Lang was the name of his friend whom was killed in a hunting accident, and took his identity to hide his past. Faraday leaves the matter alone, but still keeps an eye on Oliver and his family.
While out shopping at the mall, Brooke spots Oliver in the parking garage, then notices him switch his minivan for a Chevy Camaro. She then follows the Camaro to a van delivery service, where she spots metal boxes being unloaded from a van. She returns to the mall and calls Faraday from a payphone, leaves a message on his answering machine, finally confirming that Faraday was right, but after hanging up, she stumbles upon Cheryl, who has obviously heard the entire conversation. After coming home from work, Faraday then watches a news program that shows Brooke was killed in an accident, but its implied that conspirators working for Lang did this to silence her.
After cancelling all his classes, Faraday then learns from Whit that two messages were erased from his answering machine and suspects foul play, and is going to get proof by talking to Arthur Dean Scobee, Sr, who's son, Scobee, Jr., was accused of blowing up an IRS building and killing himself and many civilians in St. Louis, where the Lang's had originally moved from, but Scobee may have been framed. When Faraday is shown a picture of Brady and his scout master on a trip with Scobee, he realizes that the Lang's knew him before he blew up the IRS. Fearing that Grant might be in danger, he rushes back home, but can't find Grant anywhere.
Faraday confronts Oliver, who admits he not only killed Brooke, but killed the real Oliver to make it look like an accident, and threatens to have Grant killed if Michael or Whit interfere in their plans. The next day, Whit accosts Michael for his paranoia, and learns one of the phone calls came from the Reston Mall, where Brooke had originally called from before her accident. Michael rents a car the next day under a fake name, and follows a delivery van to its headquarters, realizing they are planning an attack after he witnesses metal boxes being unloaded. While following the van, he's horrified to see Grant in the vehicle, gives chase, following the van in an alley, but ends up crashing into Oliver's minivan. Oliver's target is the FBI headquarters, where he thinks that killing 100 people will bring back Michael's wife, but he overpowers Lang. He wants Lang to call off the bomb, but he refuses, takes the radio and smashes it. Faraday tries to call Whit to warn him about the bomb on its way to the FBI, but the call gets cut off due to poor cellphone reception. Thinking that the threat is real, Whit calls security to meet him at the main gate. After narrowly getting hit by a bus, Faraday forces his car into the garage, where the van is quickly surrounded by Federal Agents and security personnel and not only that, it's the wrong driver and the van is empty. Whit informs Faraday that he's the only unauthorized person to be in the parking garage.
Realizing his mistake too late, he runs to the trunk of his rental car, while it's revealed Grant is at the Air And Space Museum with Cheryl and the kids. When the trunk is opened, it reveals a hidden bomb just seconds before it explodes, killing Faraday, Whit, and 182 others. Lang then watches the destruction from afar, implying that Faraday should never have betrayed him.
Over the next few weeks, various news outlets posthumously verify that Faraday was a lone wolf terrorist who sought revenge against the FBI, namely his wife's former FBI partner, Whit Carver. The Lang's and the conspirators have successfully framed Faraday for their crimes and are not under any suspicion. Grant, now orphaned, ends up living with relatives, tragically unaware of his father's true innocence. The Lang's move out of the neighborhood and look for another government target elsewhere, implying that they will look for another fall guy to take the blame for their evil actions, as they did Michael Faraday and others before him.