Set in 1979 as Ronald Reagan is gearing up his presidential campaign and the Cold War, an American soldier is transferred by clerical error to the Arctic and unable to escape because he no longer officially exists. Cpl. Rudy Spruance (Jason Biggs) is lost - dropped off (literally) by plane at the top-secret Qangattarsa, Greenland military base hospital in the frozen wastes of the Arctic, where he is mistaken for another soldier entirely, and comes under the demented command of Lane Woolwrap (Jeremy Northam). The Army doesn't make mistakes, he's told... but how can he establish his own identity? And who is the mysterious invalid, known only as 'Guy X', in the underground ward?
Rudy is determined to get off the base. Until he meets Sergeant Irene Teale - (Natascha McElhone) beautiful, intelligent and most importantly, sane. Unfortunately, she's the Colonel Woolwrap's girlfriend.
Then Rudy discovers the secret of The Wing: a hospice for American casualties from Woolwrap's maverick raids in the Vietnam War. Guy X is an ex-Vet who comes out of his coma whenever Rudy talks to him. As a bond forms between them, Guy X charges Rudy with telling the story of the Wing to the outside world.
As Colonel Woolwrap begins to suspect Rudy's love for Irene, and his interest in The Wing, he grows more and more ruthless towards his protégé. And as the Stark Raving Dark of the permanent Arctic night begins to descend, the atmosphere at the base lurches from benign boredom to frantic insanity. The fate of Qangattarsa's patients becomes increasingly doubtful, and Rudy realises he must risk all to save himself and the people he now loves.