5ive Days to Midnight (sometimes called Five Days to Midnight) is a five-part miniseries which ran on the Sci Fi Channel in June of 2004. It stars Timothy Hutton as J.T. Neumeyer, a physicist who discovers a briefcase containing postdated documents and evidence which indicate he will die five days in the future. The miniseries was five hours long including commercials, each hour dedicated to relating the events of an entire day. It ran for four days, the first episode detailing the events of the first two days.
Physics professor J.T. Neumeyer is celebrating his daughter’s tenth birthday, as well as mourning the ten year anniversary of the death of his wife who died giving birth. While at the cemetery, Neumeyer’s daughter Jesse finds a futuristic briefcase with her father’s name on it behind her mother’s headstone. Thinking for some unexplained reason that it simply belongs to some other “Professor J.T. Neumeyer” who resides in the seattle area and visits his wife’s grave nonetheless attempts to open the combination-locked briefcase in order to discover more about its owner; he finally succeeds by entering his daughter’s birthday, because, (during scene with strange graphics of equations and astronomical phenomena swirling about his head), he arrives at the trivially obvious conclusion that it is the combination. Upon opening the briefcase, Neumeyer finds a police file complete with photos, newspaper clippings and evidence detailing his brutal murder in five days.
Neumeyer, creeped out by the whole thing, starts looking into where it might have come from. At first he thinks it is a prank perpetrated by an exceptionally brilliant but eccentric graduate student of his named Carl Axelrod. He tracks down Irwin Sikorski, the homicide detective whose name appears on the police file as investigating officer. The detective points out the holes in the story, citing that the file says he missed the autopsy and he states that he doesn’t even know the last time he missed an autopsy. Neumeyer goes home to contemplate the days’ events and figure out how to proceed. Neumeyer is given a blue parka, which he is wearing in the crime scene photos, by his girlfriend Claudia.
More things from the file start to come true. A rental company sends him a green Jeep Cherokee which also appears in the photos and the detective informs Neumeyer that he has a doctor appointment the day of the autopsy and wouldn’t be able to be there. More strangely, on the back of the newspaper clipping telling about his murder there is a story of a young woman who is killed when a tree is knocked down by heavy winds during a storm and crushes her house. Neumeyer manages to get her out of the house in time altering the future and saving her life. It isn’t until this moment that he is completely convinced that the things in the briefcase are real. Also in this segment it is revealed that one of the people on the suspect list is Claudia’s (Neumeyer’s girlfriend) ex-husband, Roy Bremmer. He’s a gangster and he has been tracking Claudia all over the country and has finally found her. Carl Axelrod is cleared as a suspect and Neumeyer enlists him in discovering how the case could have come from the future. Claudia goes to Neumeyer, confesses that she is still married to Bremmer and gives him a gun for protection. Claudia is going to leave to go on the run again but Neumeyer convinces her to stay and that he can protect her. A car across the street is taking pictures of them.
Motives are established for the list of suspects in the police file:
It becomes clear that Carl – who worships physics – begins to see JT’s death as inevitable.
Brad sees an opportunity to make money from reverse-engineering the suitcase but is rebuffed by JT. With Brad facing repossession of all his belongings due to bad investing, he sees JT as standing in the way of his financial recovery.
Roy Bremmer finds JT and threatens him and Jesse if Claudia (revealed to be originally named Angela) is not returned to him.
Claudia increases the life insurance policy on JT to $4 million dollars.
JT also seeks to escape his fate by buying a plane ticket to get out of the city. The plane takes off, giving JT a sense of relief, yet less than an hour into the flight, a sick passenger is needed to be removed from the plane, causing the pilot to return to the city.
At the end of the episode, it is revealed Mandy Murphy died in a horrible car crash. While the accident which caused her death was changed, it appears that JT cannot irrevocably alter someone’s fate.
It begins to seem as if his fate is sealed.
JT resigns himself to his fate and makes a video for Jesse, listing things he would’ve liked to have seen in the future. Jesse begins her own investigation, noting that Mandy Murphy’s dog was also indicated as killed by the falling tree. The dog was not in the car, and no one knows what became of the dog, leading Jesse to believe that the future is changeable.
JT alters his means of trying to alter the future and tries to entrap or remove the motives / abilities of the list of suspects for doing him harm:
When unable to convince Carl that physics are simply physics, JT tricks Carl into a hospital for the mentally disabled.
JT promises Brad the briefcase after he will have solved his own case, to remove Brad’s potential threat.
JT meets Roy Bremmer and offers him the money to be earned by reverse-engineering the briefcase, but Bremmer is not interested. JT even tries to shoot him as a last resort, but is not able to pull the trigger. Sikorski arrives at the scene and has Bremmer arrested.
JT does not believe Claudia has a reasonable motive to kill him, and instead works with her to remove the other threats.
The day ends with the escape of Carl from the hospital. He steals the briefcase from Neumeyer’s house. Brad intercepts Carl leaving with it and attacks him, but without success. Roy is released from jail once his lawyer gets involved. All three suspects again have reason and ability to kill JT.
Carl steals the green Jeep from the rental agency.
Sikorski is revealed to have been working angles against JT. Working with Bremmer, he knows of Claudia’s true identity as Angela Bremmer. He also knows that Claudia will inherit a lot of money on Roy’s death. Sikorski kills Roy so that Claudia will gain her inheritance. Sikorski aims to make himself rich by killing them all and gaining access to Claudia’s wealth.
Carl and Brad both head to the bar where Sikorski has taken Claudia and JT. Planning on killing JT, Brad shoots at Carl as Carl tries to run him down. Carl drives the Jeep into the bar, knocking out Sikorski. JT loads the empty gun Sikorski gave to Claudia with the unspent bullet that was present in the briefcase. Sikorski believes the bullet won’t work and is killed when he tries to shoot JT.
Carl approaches JT with the intention of killing him. JT tells Carl to look at the briefcase, noting that the police file has changed to reflect the deaths of Bremmer and Sikorski and their plot to kill JT. Carl becomes fascinated by the change, noting that the future has been changed and JT doesn’t need to die. Physics has been satisfied.
As the survivors leave the bar, JT concludes that Jesse must be the one that sent the briefcase from 50 years in the future. Her full name is Jesse Tracy Neumeyer, the other “J.T.” who owned the briefcase.