Charlie Countryman (Shia LaBeouf) sits in a Chicago hospital room with his father Bill (Vincent D’Onofrio) as a nurse turns off the life support of his mother Kate (Melissa Leo).
Soon after, he sees Kate’s spirit in a hallway and begs her to tell him what to do with his directionless life.
“Go to Bucharest,” she responds. Accepting these words of wisdom, Charlie boards a flight to Bucharest and befriends an elderly passenger called Victor Ibanescu (Ion Caramitru). The old man dies in his sleep and his spirit begs Charlie to deliver a gift intended for his daughter.
At the airport, the American abroad befriends Victor’s daughter Gabi (Evan Rachel Wood). They kindle an awkward romance but Gabi has an emotionally unstable husband called Nigel (Mads Mikkelsen), who has connections to the Romanian criminal underworld including a thug called Darko (Til Schweiger). Meanwhile, Charlie settles into shared lodgings at the Marco Polo Youth Hostel with two British tourists (James Buckley, Rupert Grint), who lead him astray with their stash of mind-bending narcotics.