Shot in Chicago and on Northwestern University’s Evanston campus, this speculative political thriller stumbles through most of its first hour, during which a disgraced former national security analyst (Tika Sumpter) comes out of retirement to accept a distinguished academic appointment, only to arouse protests and attract the sinister attention of a furtive graduate student (Ben Tavassoli). Flashbacks offer insufficient exposition, as we see the professor in her heyday a few years earlier working with her mentor, the then-U.S. vice president (Jamie Lee Curtis), a military hawk who ominously mentions “what happened in Los Angeles.” What did happen is never explained, although once the film shifts into higher gear in the second act, it’s suggested that some concentrated act of terror occurred, after which the veep—now president—pushed for a massive armed response and left her protege to shoulder the blame. Writer-director Joe Chappelle’s premise is intriguing enough, but he could have taken cues from two movies from 1974, Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation and Alan J. Pakula’s The Parallax View, both more effective in tapping the heightened paranoia of dangerous times.