Fourteen-year-old Leo Beiderman (Elijah Wood) did not expect to make an earth-shattering discovery when he joined his high school astronomy club. He didn't expect to make any discoveries at all; he simply hoped that classmate Sarah Hotchner (Leelee Sobieski) would discover him. Yet a photograph he takes through his small telescope makes him co-discoverer of Comet Wolf-Beiderman ... a comet that scientists determine is on a fatal collision course with the Earth.

Rising, ambitious newswoman Jenny Lerner (Téa Leoni) thinks she is on the trail of a Washington sex scandal when she confronts a nervous former cabinet secretary and demands answers about a mysterious "Ellie." Insead, she finds herself suddenly whisked away to a secret meeting with President Tom Beck (Morgan Freeman). In turn for her keeping the secret for two days, he offers her the scoop of a lifetime: she is told about E.L.E., news of the impending catastrophe and of a bold, risky space mission intended to deflect the comet and save the world.

Former astronaut Spurgeon Tanner (Robert Duvall) is brought out of retirement to command the mission, leading an international crew aboard the experimental spaceship Messiah. Their desperate mission: to travel to the comet, land on its violently erupting surface, and plant nuclear charges in hope of either breaking up the comet or changing its orbit away from a collision with the Earth.

In the weeks and months that follow, not only these few individuals but everyone in the world must struggle to find meaning for their lives in the face of looming catastrophe. A plan is set in motion to establish underground shelters, "Arks," in which a fortunate few may survive the impact even if all other life on Earth is wiped out. As the day of cataclysm grows nearer, all the range of human reactions is evoked -- from panic to noble resignation to fate.
Young Leo and Sarah find themselves forced to choose between their families and one another. Jenny Lerner must struggle to gain reconciliation between her divorced parents. Messiah commander Tanner must win the trust and confidence of his much younger crew who suspect that he was placed in command only for the sake of public relations.

"Deep Impact" is the story of the world's reaction to a death sentence. For all its epic sweep and stunning images, it is above all a human story, as each individual struggles in the face of extinction to find what most matters to him or her.

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