Our Hero is an attractive, strapping student at good engineering university. Bright kid,
but idealistic, a bit of a slacker, and rambunctious. The movie perhaps opens
on him skipping class to pull some pranks.
He is apprehended and sent to the dean's office.
He is chastised there. Told that if he keeps this up, he may not be
allowed to compete for the Briggs Bridge Fellowship, the most important
award a civil engineer can win. He promises to straighten up and fly
right, as he very much wants to win. The dean is dubious but
eventually gives in to his boyish charm.
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As he is leaving the dean's office, we are introduced to his young,
sexy girlfriend, who is an English major. She kisses him. But while they
are kissing, we see him open his eyes and look lustfully beyond his
girlfriend. The camera pans to reveal him looking at an old bridge on
this picturesque Harvard-like campus. She does not find out. They walk
back to her dorm, talking. He is reticent for the most part, except when
talking about the upcoming bridge-designing competition.
They get to her room and start making out. This goes on for a bit, and
then they have sex. From multiple camera angles.
Afterwards, with her wrapped up in a sheet, they
talk. She playfully talks of their future. All he can think of is
bridges. She explodes: "All you ever think of is those damn bridges!
You never think about me!" They fight. She threatens to leave him unless
he gives up his bridges. While very much in love with her, he realizes he cannot
give up on his civil engineering - perhaps he is reminded in a flashback of what
his father, a famous civil engineer, told him when he was young: "Son, women
will try to tempt you away, but you have a higher calling. Choose the more
civil path - build bridges." Frustrated, Our Hero walks out on his girlfriend.
Walking across campus, he is accosted by a group of Chinese
grad students. Their hair is dishevelled and they look menacing.
They announce their intentions to flog him, a
mere undergraduate, in the Briggs Bridge Fellowship competition.
They taunt him and continue on their way.
Next we have a montage of images, all set to "Eye of the Tiger" and other
inspirational music. We see Our Hero spending late nights at the library,
combing over books, building models out of balsa that, when tested, don't
hold up properly. Every once in a while, we cut to see the grad students
being lazy, and then we find out they're cheating, stealing their design
from China or over the Internet or something. We cut back to our guy, now in full force,
studying and designing like never before. Computer-generated graphics
float over the montage, 1's and 0's, and 3D raytraced images of bridges.
Finally, as the energizing song ends and the tables of concrete tensile
strength fade, we see Our Hero asleep early one morning
at the library, exhausted from his engineering ordeal.
Suddenly, he is awakened by a friend, who announces that he has to hurry,
the deadline for the competition entry is in 10 minutes. They run across
campus willy-nilly (almost running over the dean, who tries to give a stern
lecture about not running on campus - this adds levity in a moment of crisis)
and just barely submit his entry. The judges pore over
the many entries and select Our Hero's entry and the Chinese grad
students' entry as finalists. They then proceed to the testing round, where
they actually stress-test the two models. While testing the grad students' entry,
something goes wrong - they are revealed as cheaters, or their model
blows up or something and Our Hero wins. As he is surrounded by
thousands of cheering fans hugging him, he sees a familiar face off in
the distance - his old girlfriend, offering him forgiveness. He pushes
through the crowd and gives her a big kiss. We fade out.
Fade back in with a caption revealing it is one year later. We see a
bridge in the very early stages of construction. Our Hero is the
foreman on the project, wearing a hardhat, carrying around blueprints,
or concrete, or
whatever, directing things. His girlfriend shows up - it is lunchtime,
and they are going out to lunch - and they go to a really nice
restaurant. There, he proposes to her. Interleaved with his proposal,
which of course takes a long time for him to get up the gumption for,
we see a tragedy unfold back at the bridge construction that leads to
the death of one of the crew. Some explosion goes awry or something
breaks or whatever. Construction halts indefinitely. Our Hero arrives
back at the bridge all giddy from his proposal, until he hears the
news. He is brought to his knees by the roller coaster of emotions he
is experiencing. Literally to his knees. This bridge was his dream.
While crying over the death of a crew member, he notices a strange pin
on the ground - a Chinese flag! This is even more suspicious to him
because it is the same style pin all the Chinese grad students wore.
Perhaps we explain this in a flashback to a close-up of one of their
Now Our Hero switches into detective mode, trying to discover what the plan is
that this nefarious group has in mind. As he is also a computer wiz,
he hacks into their database and/or webpage to try to find out what
they're up to - and it shocks him. They are plotting to blow up the
entire bridge to get revenge! But Our Hero finds this out very close
to the time they are planning to do their evil deed - early Easter
morning! He rushes out to the site with his one true friend/student
who has stuck by his side this whole time, believing in him, even when
everyone else thought he was crazy.
There, they encounter the evil students, but it seems Our Hero is too late.
Leaping out of the car, they engage in a battle royale that takes place
all over the bridge using exciting construction equipment - wheelbarrows,
i-beams suspended from cranes, steamrollers, cables, all that. The grad
students are trying to kill Our Hero, who is trying to prevent them from
blowing up his bridge. They swing from the cables which are hung but not
yet attached, firing guns and such. Some explosions do go off, but not
enough to damage the bridge - they just cause more excitement! Eventually,
Our Hero, maybe using some civil engineering knowledge or something, kicks
the grad students' butts, cornering them and binding them with cables
just as the police arrive and take care of everything from there on out.
But the police do call Our Hero "a truly civil engineer" for saving the
citizens of this town from suffering the horrible fate of not having a
truly stellar bridge to travel on.
Then there's an awards ceremony back at the school, and stuff like that.
As we roll credits on the left side of the screen, we see a humorous,
cathartic montage of images as to what happened after the movie, all set
to a pop punk version of Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water".
We see the bridge finally being completed, and Our Hero and his girlfriend
getting married in the middle of it on opening day. Also, before that,
we saw the Asian grad students in prison clothes, being forced, ironically,
to work on the bridge, as part of a prison work program. They are not too
happy! And at the wedding ceremony, we see the cake - it is two separate
cakes linked by a scale model of the bridge he built. Also, we see the
ghost of the dead instructor from earlier in the film, who helped Our
Hero to be such a great civil engineer. He is smiling, standing with younger
professors from the school and also the guy's best friend. They are
happy he has succeeded.
Also on the soundtrack are Semisonic, Third Eye Blind, Counting Crows,
the Gin Blossoms, Seal, Collective Soul, Mariah Carey, the aforementioned
Simon & Garfunkel cover tune, and Sugar Ray featuring vocals by Bono.