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Late one night, London policemen pull an unconscious man from the Thames River, and send him to the hospital. View magazine crime photographer Mac Rea snaps the unidentified man's picture and is showing it to his editor, Alcott, when the magazine's American-born science reporter, Mike Delaney, comes into the office. Delaney is so intrigued by the photograph that he disregards his own assignment, stands up his girl friend, American Jill Rabowski, and heads for the photo morgue. When the indulgent Jill, who is also a photographer for View , tracks down Delaney, he shows her a picture of renowned American scientist Dr. Stephen Rayner, who works in London at the Brandt Nuclear Institute. Convinced that the man from the river is Rayner, Delaney and Jill drive to the hospital just as Dr. Preston operates to remove a bullet from the man's back. When the man's heart stops, a shot of adrenaline fails to revive him and he is declared dead. Several seconds later, however, the man's eyes suddenly open and his heart starts. Delaney then arrives at the hospital to show Rayner's photograph to Preston and police inspector Cleary, who acknowledge Rayner's resemblance to the patient. A few minutes later, though, a policeman checking on Rayner reveals that he just spoke with the scientist on the telephone. The next morning, Cleary goes to the Brandt Institute, as does Delaney, an old acquaintance of institute director Bob Maitland. Maitland confidentially tells Delaney that Rayner has been successful in recreating a certain element. When Rayner, who wears two facial band-aids, but otherwise looks exactly like the man in the hospital, arrives, he is not interested in the unidentified man's story. This arouses Delaney's suspicions, as does Rayner's claim that his band-aids are the result of a traffic accident. Back at the magazine, Jill shows Delaney photographs she took of the man at the hospital that exhibit a strange, foggy glow which she asserts was not caused by faulty camera equipment. That same day, when the man at the hospital complains of severe headaches, Preston orders X-Rays, but the X-ray machine malfunctions. Meanwhile, Delaney has gone against Alcott's orders to pursue his own assignment and drives with Jill to see Maitland, who thinks that static electricity might have caused the photographic glow. On a hunch, Delaney asks about radiation sickness, and Maitland describes symptoms that might fit someone, such as Rayner, who worked with radioactive elements. Delaney later relates this to Preston, who allows Delaney to ask the man in the hospital, who also has these symptoms, if he is Rayner. The man seems incoherent, but in his ramblings, utters the name "Vasquo." Delaney then decides to go with Jill to Rayner's house. There Delaney confirms his suspicions when the man who calls himself Rayner is ignorant of details about the real Rayner's background. Delaney says nothing, then becomes curious about a hat in the foyer that has a label from a shop in Buenos Aires. Once in the car, Delaney tells Jill what he has learned and his deduction that "Rayner's" bandages are the result of recent plastic surgery to make him look like the scientist. Later, as the phony Rayner is examined by plastic surgeon Dr. Bressler, he talks with Vasquo, an Argentine millionaire, about a forthcoming explosion. Returning to the office, Jill develops a photograph she has taken of the phony Rayner that confirms he is an impostor because there is no glow surrounding him. Just then Delaney learns that Alcott has fired him for failing to work on his assignment. Refusing to drop the Rayner story, Delaney calls Preston and learns that his patient's X-rays exhibited the same glow as Jill's photograph. Delaney asks for permission to tape the patient while he asks some questions, and Preston agrees. Delaney later records Rayner's answers to several questions. The answers make no sense until Jill transcribes the tape and suggests that Rayner seems to be answering questions before they are asked. Learning from Preston and another doctor that Rayner's heart had stopped for 7.5 seconds, which might create a lack of synchronization with his still-active brain, Delaney starts and stops the machine, matching Rayner's answers with successive questions from Jill's transcription. The answers now reveal that the patient knows he is Rayner and was kidnapped by Vasquo but has no idea why. Rayner also mentions the initials UTC, but does not know their meaning. That night, after asking Jill to do some research on the initials, Delaney goes home and is slightly wounded by a sniper. The next morning, Jill tells Delaney that UTC might stand for an Argentine company called United Tungsten Corporation. Delaney guesses that Rayner had been able to recreate tungsten in the lab and that Vasquo was trying to prevent its manufacture. Delaney then goes to the hospital while Jill secretly does some research on her own by breaking into Vasquo's London office. Meanwhile, Vasquo has learned about the real Rayner's progress from a contact in the hospital, and orders Bressler to sneak into Rayner's room to kill him. Later, Bressler is about to administer a fatal injection to Rayner but cannot commit murder and leaves. Outside the room, one of the doctors recognizes Bressler, but he quickly departs. When the doctor tells Delaney that Bressler was once a famous plastic surgeon, Delaney makes the connection with the phony Rayner. Relieved to find the real Rayner unharmed, Delaney calls Cleary, who notifies Maitland and issues an all points bulletin for Vasquo and the phony Rayner. Just then Jill calls Delaney from Vasquo's office and tells him that she has found incriminating evidence. Delaney warns Jill to leave, but before she hangs up, Vasquo arrives and grabs the telephone from her. Delaney rushes over to Vasquo's office, but Jill has already been taken away by Vasquo and his thugs. As Delaney is about to call Scotland Yard, the phone rings and a man at the other end, thinking Delaney is Vasquo, tells him to hurry and meet him "at the wharf." Delaney rushes to the area where Rayner was shot and breaks into a warehouse in which Jill is being kept prisoner. After an exchange of gunfire, Vasquo and his men are killed and Delaney finds Jill unharmed. After Jill tells Delaney that Vasquo was talking about an explosion scheduled for nine o'clock at the Brandt Institute, they arrive in time to prevent a plutonium explosion that could have destroyed much of London.