(SUPPOSEDLY) OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS - no spoilers
Sharon Solarz (Susan Sarandon) is nervous. She's driving along a lonely road, lost in thought. As she goes over a hill, her car drifts a little too close to the center-divide and she's almost crushed by a truck going in the opposite direction. Rattled further, she pulls into a gas station. She looks like any another woman until cars come screeching in all around her, FBI agents begin waving their badges and a shotgun is pointed at her head.
Jim Grant (Robert Redford) has made a good life for himself as a small town lawyer in Albany New York. He has managed to juggle his job and raise his 11 year old daughter Isabel after the death of his wife a few years ago. His world is turned upside down after he's approached by his old friend Billy while dropping his daughter off at school. Billy fills Jim in on Sharon's arrest which took place not far from them. Billy asks if Jim will help Sharon in any way, but Jim wants no part of it.
We learn that Sharon was a former member of a radical group called the Weather Underground. The group robbed a bank way back in the late '70s and the security guard, an off duty policeman, was shot and killed in the process. Sharon has been charged with murder. Jim is suddenly under suspicion of somehow being involved.
During the ensuing investigation, evidence is unearthed and connections are being made, namely by young and clever Albany Sun-Times reporter Ben Shepard (Shia LaBeouf). Ben uses his local and FBI contacts and slowly begins to think that Jim was involved in the robbery and murder. But past appearances can be deceiving and as he tries to get to the bottom of it all, Jim leads Ben and the FBI on a cross-country manhunt, while trying to find the third remaining member-at-large, Mimi Lurie (Julie Christie), so that he might convince her to come forward and prove his innocence and save his daughter.
SYNOPSIS with spoilers
A pre-credit sequence tells the story of radical activists during the Vietnam War era whose protests led to crimes such as bank robberies, including one at the Bank of Michigan that left a guard dead.
Sharon Solarz drives from Vermont into New York state, where she is promptly arrested by FBI agents at a gas station and charged for the guard's murder at the bank over 30 years earlier.
Near Albany, Jim Grant drives his 11-year-old daughter to school. There, a man named Cusimano asks him to represent Sharon in her case.
Ben, a young reporter from the Albany Sun-Times, meets an FBI agent at the Albany office whom he used to date in college, looking for info on the Solarz case. She gives him a tip about Cusimano.
Ben talks with Cusimano, through whom he learns about about Jim being connected to Solarz.
Ben meets with Jim at his law office. Jim is reluctant to talk and says he did not take the Solarz case because he's not up to it.
Ben gets Jim's S.S. number from tracing his license plate. He gets more from friends and informers, but finds nothing incriminating.
Jim is concerned about his daughter, whose mother died the year before in a car accident.
Jim calls his brother by disposable cell phone to set up a plan.
Through further investigation, Ben uncovers that Jim is Nick Sloan, a wanted fugitive connected to the Michigan bank robbery.
Jim takes his daughter to a hotel in New York City, where he arranges for his brother to pick her up. He escapes by subway as FBI agents search the hotel.
Ben interviews Solarz in prison, who reveals that Jim and another radical in their group named Mimi were lovers.
Jim makes it by train to Milwaukee. There he finds another old radical friend, who procures a clean car for Jim and tells him that another associate, Jed, may know how to find Mimi.
Mimi is meanwhile in Big Sir, California, smuggling marijuana on boats.
Ben goes to Michigan to further investigate the bank robbery, where he tracks down the cop who worked the case, Henry Osborne.
Jim calls his daughter back in NYC, who is safe. The FBI trace his call to northern Illinois and go in pursuit, but he again eludes them.
Jim finds Jed teaching at the University of Chicago. Through a series of phone calls, Jed connects Jim with the information he needs to find Mimi, who happens to be staying in Iowa at that time.
Ben meets Osborne's daughter Rebecca at the University of Michigan, and through further investigation learns that her father and Mimi were friends from childhood.
Jim makes his way to a shack on an island in the U.P. near the Canadian border. Mimi arrives, and Jim tries to convince her to give herself up for the sake of his daughter. They recall their causes for the activist movement: Jim left when too many people were getting hurt, but Mimi maintained her opposition to the corrupt government.
Jim reminds Mimi that he was not part of the robbery, and that they had a child together whom they gave up.
Osborne and his wife meet Rebecca and tell her the truth, that her birth parents are Jim and Mimi.
As the FBI close in on the U.P. shack, Mimi takes off into the woods and makes her way to a boat.
Ben shows up at the shack and wants to ask Jim for info on the story he is still writing, but Jim takes off on foot to draw the FBI to him, while Mimi gets away.
As Ben is reviewing the news story he has written, exposing Osborne's cover-up of the Michigan bank robbery as well as Jim's relationship with Mimi, he sees on the news that Mimi has surrendered to police and all charges against Jim/Nick have been dropped. Ben thinks about submitting his story to his paper, but then decides against it.
Jim is released to return to his daughter back in NYC, with whom he has a nice long talk.