We begin with “Jack the Ripper” killing one of London’s prostitutes, luring her in as a prospective alley-way client. Before he stabs her to death, she notices that he is a doctor by his medical bag.
Next, we meet H.G. Wells, hosting a soiree and being poked fun at by his guests. First, they tease him about his divorced status, then about his veiled romantic streak, and finally about his interest in time travel. The last guest to arrive is our murderous doctor, identified as Dr. John Stevenson.
When Wells unveils an actual time machine that he has built, everyone but Stevenson fear that he has gone crazy. The two are left alone in his basement workshop and debate what the future holds for humanity.
Scotland Yard interrupts the party, searching for the Ripper. Most of Wells’ guests head home, escorted by officers but Dr. Stevenson has hidden himself from sight. His medical bag is by the door and the detective opens it to finds the bloody knife and a souvenir he took off his latest victim.
Wells tells the police he last saw Stevenson in the basement but the officer sent down finds nothing. The police leave the house, figuring Stevenson has run out by another door. Wells returns to the basement to find the time machine gone.
Suddenly, it reappears in the basement. Empty. Wells had explained earlier that the machine would automatically return to its starting point unless the countermand key is used. Realizing Stevenson has used his machine, presumably successfully, to escape into the future – March 3, 2017, to be exact – Wells follows.
New York City, 2017
Emerging from the machine, Wells finds himself in a museum exhibit about … himself. Tackled to the ground by a security guard, right in front of a giant poster of “H.G. Wells: A Man Ahead of His Time”, he is taken to an office where he discovers his name listed (alongside The Manhattan Project, Neil Armstrong, and Biotechnology) as an exhibit for the American Museum of Space Science.
Meeting the museum’s assistant curator, Jane Walker, he realizes a lot of things have changed. Walker is primarily concerned with keeping the news of someone breaking into the museum as a publicity stunt out of the media. Once assured that nothing has leaked, she has Wells escorted out but not before revealing that Stevenson has also arrived in this time.
Grilling the security guard, Wells learns that Stevenson arrived about an hour before he did and was directed to the Renaissance Hotel in Times Square. Exiting the museum, he is overwhelmed by crowds of people wearing earbuds, riding Segways, demonstrating drones, using selfie sticks. He takes in enormous buildings and nearly gets run over in traffic.
Not far away, Stevenson is taking his time soaking up New York City as well, pawning a pocket watch for cash, and scamming his way into accommodations. Wells manages to track him to the hotel but is advised to wait for him in the bar as he’ll never find him on Fifth Avenue. There, he watches the news on television, heartbroken that the world is not the utopia he expected to find.
The two reunite and Wells declares his intention to take Stevenson back to 1893 to face the consequences for his actions. Stevenson responds with his intention to do no such thing and demands that Wells hand over the key to the time machine, threatening him with a newly acquired knife. Wells hits him over the head and runs out into Times Square, only to be hit by a taxi.
With police on the scene, Stevenson is forced to leave Wells to emergency services. With no identification, the hospital contacts Ms. Walker based on her business card in Wells’ pocket. Reassured by Wells that he really is just an actor engaged in a publicity stunt, she leaves but reconsiders when she sees him stumble out the hospital doors, still woozy from his concussion.
Taking him home to her apartment, they have a discussion about modern societal norms and she introduces him to Chinese take-out food and modern plumbing. While he’s having a misadventure with an electric razor, she snoops through his jacket pockets and takes a close look at the time machine key.
The next morning, Walker helps Wells contact the Renaissance Hotel only to find out that Stevenson checked out the night before. On the news, a report of a murder at the Utopia Nightclub is being broadcast. The victim, a young woman, was stabbed to death and found with keys in her mouth. Wells recognizes this as a message to him from Stevenson and tells Walker the truth which she finds unbelievable.
To prove his claim of being H.G. Wells, he takes her three days into the future in the time machine, making her a believer which is great until she sees a newspaper article with her picture, identifying her as the serial killer’s third and latest victim.
Returning to the present (with the newspaper), they track down Stevenson by identifying the second victim and the murder location. Wells pulls a gun on his old friend and Stevenson lets the woman go. The two fight briefly but Stevenson runs off when helps arrives.
Wells and Walker return to her apartment where she tries to convince him to go to the hospital for stitches and antibiotics for the wound Stevenson gave him. He insists he’ll be fine. Stevenson sneaks in while they are each doing their own thing and abducts Jane.
When Wells runs out of the building to pursue, he is intercepted by Vanessa Anders, the woman who owns the H.G. Wells exhibit. She informs him that she is his great-granddaughter and that he needs to come with her. Her security don't really give him a choice.