The movie opens with a close-up of Ben Thomas (Will Smith), calling for an ambulance. When the operator asks him for the reason for his call, the man replies that there’s been a suicide and that the victim is him.
In the ensuing voiceover, Ben states that God created the world in seven days, but that all it took was seven seconds for Ben to shatter his own. We then pan over a list of names. The name “Ezra Turner” has been circled. Ben calls Ezra (Woody Harrelson), who is a customer service representative for a meat distribution company. Ben insults and ridicules Ezra when he discovers that Ezra is a blind vegetarian. Ezra is clearly uncomfortable and hurt by the conversation, but refuses to get angry, despite Ben goading him on. Once Ezra politely hangs up, Ben looks devastated. He begins to yell a series of names and throws his phone across the room.
Next we find Ben in a deserted office, searching through the IRS database with the list of names we saw earlier. He finds the account for Emily Posa (Rosario Dawson). He heads to the hospital and runs into her in the elevator and follows her, but doesn’t speak to her. She later wakes up to catch a glimpse of him watching her sleeping in the hospital bed.
In the next scene, we see Ben teaching a group at Apogee Aeronautics. He gets a message from Sarah (Robinne Lee) for dinner, and he rushes off to meet her for dinner. Ben wakes to a call from his brother (Michael Ealy), who seems concerned about him. He also asks if Ben took something of his the last time they saw each other (important later). Ben says that he remembers giving him something and says that he loves him.
Ben next visits a nursing home to speak with Stuart Goodman (Tim Kelleher), who is sitting next to one of the residents. He is talking to the infirm woman quite sharply, but when Stuart sees Ben, he quickly changes his attitude. They leave to talk in Stuart’s office and we discover that Stuart’s finances are in shambles. He tries to win Ben’s sympathy by telling him that his bone marrow transplant didn’t work out. Ben isn’t overly sympathetic. Ben returns to speak to the old woman Stuart was talking to earlier. He asks the old woman whether Stuart is a good man, because he has the power to change Stuart’s life, and needs to know whether or not Stuart is deserving of such a gift. The old woman writes that Stuart’s medications are making her sick, and that Stuart is punishing her. Ben discovers that all she wants is a simple bath, but apparently Stuart is refusing to let the staff bathe her. Furious, Ben takes her to the washroom himself and orders the nurses to bathe her. Stuart follows Ben, saying that this is all a misunderstanding. Ben assaults him, saying that he almost believed him, but that now he’s not going to give him anything.
Ben meets his friend Dan Morris (Barry Pepper) on the golf course. Ben is upset that Dan didn’t call him as promise, but Dan says that the only reason he didn’t call was because the doctor hadn’t given him any results. Dan adds that he’s been soul-searching, and Ben orders Dan not to back out of the plan.
Ben is sitting in the hospital, watching a little boy, but when the camera pans into the distance, we see Emily. She comes over and confronts him, wanting to know if he was watching her and if he was in her hospital room watching her sleep the other night. Ben denies everything and says that he’s been sent by the IRS to audit her. Emily, having just been discharged from the hospital, says she’d rather do this later. Ben agrees and leaves.
Ben is watching a practice hockey game from the sidelines. The coach, George Ristuccia, seems harsh, but fair and appears to command a great deal of respect from the kids he coaches. Next, we see Ben feeding Emily’s dog Duke, an enormous Great Dane. She is horrified that he’s been feeding him meat, as her dog is a vegetarian. Ben wants to talk about the audit, but Emily refuses, telling him that she has to take Duke for a walk. Ben gets around this by saying they can talk while she walks her dog. On the walk, Emily struggles to control Duke, and becomes short of breath. Ben takes the dog from her and jokes that Duke should definitely never eat meat, because even Ben has trouble controlling him. Emily laughs, enjoying herself. When they return to Emily’s house, Ben goes through her file, and remarks that she has congenital heart failure, but isn’t sick enough to be put on the transplant list, which means that if her heart failed, she would die. He says that she told the transplant board that she didn’t think she was more deserving of a heart than others, and therefore that there was no reason to move her to the top of the transplant list, because her life was unremarkable. She’s angered by his lack of sensitivity until he admits to her that he feels his life is even less than “unremarkable”. He tells her that she’s a good person who deserves more. Ben leaves his card.
Ben is moving a fish into his room, to the great dismay of the motel owner. Ben reminisces on the time his father took him to an aquarium, and he saw a box jellyfish for the first time. His father tells him that it is the most deadly creature in the world (important later).
Ben and Dan are talking in his motel room, and Ben is signing papers sent by his doctor. Dan is tearful, and is having second thoughts about their plans. He makes amends to Ben about wrongs he committed against him in the past. Ben throws something at him, warning him not to back out now. Dan is upset and angry that Ben doesn’t trust him, and he swears that he’ll do everything he promised, no matter how hard it is for him.
Ben visits a woman named Holly who works for Child Protection Services, who is delighted to see him. We see a picture of her standing with Ben on her desk. He asks her for a name of someone who needs help. She directs him to Connie Tepos, a woman who is too fearful to leave her abusive boyfriend despite the fact that he almost killed her a year ago. Ben visits Connie and her two kids and offers to give her a way out. She is furious and suspicious and orders him to get out. Ben leaves his card with her.
We next see Ben at the hospital, talking to the coach, George, from earlier, who is on dialysis. The doctor comes by, telling Ben and the coach that he will see them both in the operating room. When the coach asks why he was chosen, Ben replies that he is a good man, even when he doesn’t know people are watching.
Ezra is playing piano in the middle of a busy mall. No one pays attention to him, except for Ben, who watches from the sidelines. Ben follows him to a restaurant, where it is clear Ezra is smitten by one of the waitresses. Ezra offers to given her son free piano lessons, but the waitress tells him her son is too busy. Ben comes over and tells Ezra to ask her out. Ezra is startled and tells Ben that she doesn’t even notice him, and Ben leaves before Ezra can say much else.
Emily calls Ben. She is in the hospital again, having fainted at her front door. She tells him that her heart is failing and that she called him because she wanted someone to talk to. She asks him to tell her a story, and he tells her a story about a boy named Tim, who jumped out of a tree to see if he could fly. He ended up breaking his arm, but when he grew up, he decided to build spaceships to fly to the moon. Emily tells him that he tells terrible stories. Ben starts to add dragons into the story to make it more interesting, but ends up doing an abysmal job. Eventually gives up and tells Emily to try and get some sleep. She asks him sadly if he ever thinks about dying, and he tells her that the thinks about it now and again. During this whole time, we see him walking. He ends up at the hospital, next to Emily, who has fallen asleep. He sits next to her and whispers to her that he lied to her; he thinks about dying all the time. When she wakes up, she finds him sound asleep next to her. The doctor comes in, and tells her that she has been moved to the top of the transplant list, because she likely only has a month to live before her current heart fails.
Connie, the woman with the abusive boyfriend, calls Ben, and tearfully begs for his help. He quickly comes to her aid. She has a bruise on her cheek, but still she hesitates to leave, terrified that her boyfriend will track down her and her kids. Ben tells her to be strong, and gives her a car and instructions to get to a house. It ends up being his beach house. She opens a letter he gave her and finds the deed to the beach house. In Ben’s letter all he asks is that she never try to contact him, and to remember to live life abundantly and to not throw away this second chance at life.
Ben meets up with Emily, and we find out that he used to work for MIT. Emily wonders how he went from MIT to being an IRS agent, but Ben refuses to elaborate. She’s angry that he’s so secretive, and when they part, it isn’t on the best of terms. Ben returns to weed her yard by way of apology. Emily is bemused, but wonders why he’s still wearing suit pants. Ben tells her he didn’t bring a change of clothes. Emily invites him to her shed, where she shows him the old presses she uses to make custom cards. Her presses are anywhere from fifty to a hundred and fifty years old. She shows him one old press, which stopped working years ago. It’s so old that she can’t find anyone to fix it, because repairing it is a dying art. They go for a walk with Duke is a quiet field. Ben asks her why she would get such a huge dog. Emily confides that Great Danes live only for seven years because of heart problems. She bought Duke so that she would have something to take care of, instead of always being the one taken care of. When they get back to her place, Emily kisses Ben on the cheek and tells him that she had a great time. Ben tells her that he did too.
He later returns to her shed to fix the broken printing press in the middle of the night. When Ben returns to the motel, he takes a shower, and has a flashback to the scene of an accident.
Next, we see Ben watching a Nicholas, little boy in the hospital. In the next scene, Ben is giving a donation of bone marrow, without any anesthetics. It’s clear he’s in agony. When he returns to the motel, the motel owner asks him why he’s limping. When Ben doesn’t answer, the motel owner gets suspicious and demands to know when he’s leaving. Ben replies that he plans to die in the motel. The motel owner, convinced that Ben is joking, snarkily tells him that if that’s the case, he should pay for his room in advance.
Ben, exhausted from traveling, lies in his motel room, Chinese takeout and papers scattered on the bed. His phone rings throughout the day, but he doesn’t answer. Finally, he picks up. It’s Emily. She invites him to come over that evening. When Ben arrives, Emily greets him in a fancy gold dress. He is flustered because he hadn’t realized that they were meeting for dinner. She gives him a large present and tells him to change in another room. They have a wonderful vegetarian dinner, which Ben finds delicious, much to Emily’s delight. They end up dancing to one of Emily’s favorite songs, which she plays on a record player. They almost kiss, but Ben interrupts the moment by telling her to come with him to the shed. He shows her the fixed printing press, which completely amazes Emily and leads to a passionate kiss. Ben then stops and tells Emily he has something else for her, and runs back to his car.
Outside, he encounters his brother, who yells at him for impersonating an IRS officer. We discover that Ben’s name is in fact Tim, and that he had taken his brother’s identification card in order to insinuate himself in people’s lives under the guise of an IRS officer (this is what he had taken from his brother as mentioned earlier in the movie). Will Smith (who will be continued to be called Ben to make things easier), runs back to Emily’s house. Notably, Ben leaves Emily’s present in the car. He and Emily make love, and Ben tells her that he loves her, and implies that he wants to marry her and start a family.
In the middle of the night, he leaves her and runs to the hospital, asking for Emily’s doctor to be paged. He asks her what Emily’s chances are of finding a compatible heart. She tells him that Emily has as rare blood type, and that her chances are less than five percent. Reassured that he’s making the right choice, Ben runs back to his motel room in the rain. He calls Dan Morris and tells him that it’s time. Dan is devastated. Ben next calls Ezra, and apologizes for being so cruel to him on the phone. Ben explains that he had to prove that Ezra was a good man before he could give him a gift. He tells Ezra that Dan Morris will contact him. At the motel, we see Ben fill his bathtub with water and ice. We return to the first scene, where Ben calls the 911 operator to tell them that there’s been a suicide.
He flashes back to a time when he and Sarah are driving down the highway. Sarah is admiring her new engagement ring, and Ben is checking his Blackberry. Sarah tells him to put it away. Neither of them notices that Ben has drifted into the oncoming lane until it’s too late. Ben swerves and dodges the oncoming car, only to hit he next car, which is a van carrying six people. When he awakens from the accident, he finds Sarah`s body amidst the wreckage.
Ben painfully climbs into the ice-cold bath that has a sign posted next to it, (presumably telling EMS workers not to resuscitate him). He envisions Emily’s face, and then quickly dumps in a bucketful of water containing the jellyfish into the tub. The jellyfish stings his arm, and Ben dies an agonizing death. Ben is quickly brought to the hospital, where Dan Morris awaits. Dan argues with the doctor, telling him that Emily needs a heart. Emily’s pager goes off, and she wakes and calls for Ben excitedly, not realizing that he is long gone. Emily is brought to the operating room, and in another room, unknown to her, Ben is also laid out on a table. Ben’s heart is transplanted into Emily’s chest, and begins to beat.
Ben’s brother sits in a room with newspaper clippings and pictures of people that his brother has saved, as well as letters that his brother has left for each person. Ben’s brother meets Emily after the operation, and reveals everything to her. Tim donated two lobes of his lung to Ben when he was diagnosed with lung cancer. He then donated a lobe of his liver to Holly, the Child Protection Services worker. Putting the pieces together, Ben donated a kidney to coach George, bone marrow to Nicholas and a heart to Emily. He also found Connie and her family a new home. For each of the seven people who died, including his fiancée, Ben found a way to save seven deserving people.
Emily lies in the bathtub and sinks her head beneath the water and listens to her heartbeat, Ben’s heartbeat. Emily then tracks down Ezra, the seventh person, who is playing piano for a group of choir children. When they meet, Ezra at first thinks she is one of the children’s parents, and then realizes that he is Emily. Emily can’t help but stare at him, because Ben gave Ezra the gift of sight - to Ezra, he donated his eyes. They hug emotionally, realizing the amazing gift that they’ve been given.
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