Atlanta, Georgia. The opening scene shows a parked car in the dead of night. Michael Atwood (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Russell Welch (Norman Reedus) are smoking, and talking about their next job. In the backseat, Russell's brother Gabe (Aaron Paul) listens stoically.
The three men meet up with Marcus Belmont (Anthony Mackie) and Franco Rodriguez (Clifton Collins Jr.). Marcus and Franco are two corrupt cops who are part of Michael's crew. They discuss the logistics of the bank heist they are about to partake in, noting they will have about three minutes before police units are on them. As they leave to go their separate ways, Franco asks Marcus if he is worried about the job. Marcus tells him 'no'.
2 WEEKS LATER
Marcus and Franco are in the back of a van Russell is driving with the rest of the crew. They check their guns and get their masks on.
Meanwhile, Irina Vlasov (Kate Winslet) is getting a pedicure with her younger sister, Elena (Gal Gadot). Elena's son, Felix, sits with them, and Irina is reading him a story. Irina gets a phone call and she answers it. Irina meets two of her men who open a trunk of a car. Inside are a man and woman. They have been beaten, tortured, and duct taped up. One of Irina's men shows her a plastic bag, filled with their teeth. It is apparent that Irina is a Russian crime boss and this couple has done something awful enough in her eyes to merit this response. The henchmen throw the teeth in with the couple and shut the trunk of the car.
We see a police officer, Chris Allen (Casey Affleck) wake up and get ready to go to work. He spends time with his wife Michelle (Teresa Palmer) and their son before heading off.
Russell parks the van near their target, the First City Bank. Michael, Franco, Gabe, and Marcus enter with masks and guns drawn, incapacitating the security guards and ordering everyone to get down. Gabe sees the bank manager making a run for it and chases him down. The group shows him a series of photos involving his home, and his family, to make him do what they want.
Russell listens to police scanners outside in the van. He hears the robbery call and tells Michael they have 2.5 minutes before the cops come.
Michael and the others go down to the vault, where they force the manager to open a specific safety deposit box. As he does that, Gabe notices a pile of cash just sitting out. He grabs a good amount of it, before taking the box from Michael. Michael locks in the manager in the vault and throws him the key to release himself. The group exits the bank, but not before Michael leaves 2 primed flashbangs on the door to keep anyone from following them.
As they exit, circumstances prevent them from leaving in the van, so Gabe steals a minivan for their getaway vehicle. The group drives off while Russell navigates for them by listening to the scanner. However, in their escape, a dye pack explodes inside the bag. The money Gabe took was rigged. The van fills with blinding red smoke and paint which makes it hard for Michael to drive. Gabe tries to open a door to make the smoke dissipate, but it only causes them to clip another vehicle. With cops not far behind, Michael and the crew get out, searching for a new car, while Russell can only sit and watch. Franco lays down suppressive fire on the police and the crowd, while Michael finds an SUV to steal. Russell finally tells Franco to stop shooting (after noticing he wounded a woman in the process) and the four escape in their new car. Meanwhile, Russell turns his van around and gets away from the cops, who have no idea he was involved.
Michael, Marcus, Gabe, and Franco head to a secluded area to dump the car. Marcus and Franco explode on Gabe, saying he was so stupid for taking that money. As cops, they know banks just leave money like that out in case of bank heists to trick stupid criminals. Gabe says hes sorry, but they would have congratulated him if nothing had been wrong. Franco almost comes to blows with him, but Michael tells him to stand down. He tells them he will go see Irina and he will contact them within three days. Michael shoots the gas tank of the SUV then throws a flashbang on the gas puddle. As they drive away, the flashbang ignites the gas, torching the SUV.
Russell meets up with his brother, cautioning him not to be stupid with easy money and to be wary of Franco and Marcus, because they will not hesitate to hurt him if he continues to mess up. Michael and Russell may have a code between them, but the two cops are different. Gabe says he understands.
Later, Russell speaks with Michael about Gabe. He apologizes on Gabe's behalf, saying part of Gabe's problem is he has apparently relapsed after being clean 6 months. Russell says Gabe was a good cop. Michael takes the apology in stride, realizing Russell is doing the best he can for Gabe. Were family, Michael says.
We see the Kosher meatpacking plant where Irina has her legitimate businesses to hide her criminal ones. We see the same henchman who had the tortured couple. They have now wrapped them in plastic, still alive, in a meat packing truck. He closes the door and the truck drives off, taking them off for further torture before being murdered.
Sergeant Detective Jeffery Allen (Woody Harrelson) goes to bank Michael and his crew robbed. He meets the manager and mockingly asks if it was his first time being robbed. When the man says he had no choice as they had pictures of his family, Jeffery tells him he has to be careful with what he posts on social media, as criminals use that all the time to fish for bait to make people like him to comply. Jeffery learns that the crew went directly for one safety box owned by a Dimitri Petkov, though they don't know much else.
Chris goes into the station for his first day of work. The commanding officer notes he has transferred in from the 02, which apparently is a lower key department. The commanding officer then partners Chris with Marcus, which Marcus objects too. They head out on patrol.
In his apartment, Michael goes into a drawer full of burner phones and calls Franco, and tells him they will see each other in two days. He then cooks the SIM card in the microwave.
Michael meets Irina at the plant, getting patted down by her henchmen and getting his gun taken away temporarily. He gives Irina the box and gets to spend time with his son, who is revealed to be Felix. As he walks with his son, Irina talks business. Michael expects to be paid for their work, but Irina reveals that there is a 2nd necessary job. Michael balks, saying that is not the deal, and tells her to pay them. Irina stonewalls and puts the pressure on Michael, reminding him how much sway she has over his son. It is clear that Michael is doing most of these heists only because Irina dangles his son in front of him like bait. As Irina tells him what they need done, Michael notices a room full of federal agents and is freaked out.
Irina calls her husband, who is imprisoned in a Russian jail. He tells her Michael refusing to do the job is unacceptable as it necessary to have the blackmail necessary to be released from prison. He recommends to Irina that she hurt Michael.
Russell gets a call from Michael saying they have to all meet right away. Russell says he will be right there, hanging up. As he gets into his car, a man hiding inside suffocates him with a plastic bag. It is one of Irina's thugs, sent to give a message.
Michael, Franco, Gabe, and Marcus meet up. Michael asks Gabe where his brother is, but Gabe says he doesn't know. Suddenly, they see Russell's car and think all is well. However, when it crashes into the wall, and they hear another car peel away, they know something is horribly wrong. The four go over to the car, and see Russell with a bag over his head, and covered in copious wounds. Michael pulls the bag off his head to see he is still breathing but barely. Marcus is forced to hold Gabe back, while Michael looks Russell over. Michael realizes they cannot save Russell and tells him "I'm going to take care of you". Michael puts the bag back over Russell's head (to catch the blood) and after a moments hesitation, shoots him in the head to end his suffering. Gabe is understandably devastated by the death of his brother.
Irina is at home, when her phone rings. She doesn't answer it, because she knows it is Michael calling. She's knows he knows she had Russell killed. Elena gives her the phone as it rings out, telling her sister, He's not calling me knowing enough about her sister to know she has done something that has angered the father of her child. She then tells Irina she is going out for the night.
Franco, Michael, Gabe, and Marcus discuss how they can get Irina's job done. Michael mentions that the feds are in bed with Irina and that makes their job even more complex.
The next day, Marcus and Chris are on patrol, when they get called onto a murder scene. Though they cannot confirm it, MS-13 members murdered three men and put their severed heads on a car with a warning written on the windshield in blood. Franco is also at the scene and thinks Chris is a rookie which he immediately counters by knowing fluent Spanish and guesses that the men were killed for talking too freely with gang information. Chris goes over to MS-13 members, trying to gain information and catches the ire of one, Luis Pinto (Luis De Silva Jr.). When Pinto makes a crass remark about Chris wife and makes a move on him, Chris immediately arrests him, to the anger of Marcus. Marcus pulls Chris aside and tells him they have to talk.
Marcus takes Chris inside a convenience store and tells the clerk to take a smoke break while they talk in private. Marcus explodes on Chris, asking what he was thinking. Chris tells him that the man insulted him, tried to assault him, and was impeding his investigation. Marcus tells him the rules are different and he cant act like he just did. The man he just arrested was a MS-13 Lieutenant. "He was a Lieutenant?" Chris asks mockingly. Then Ill go outside and apologize to him. Marcus tells him because of what he did no one will talk to them now.
Franco, Michael, Gabe, and Marcus are drinking in an abandoned strip club, mourning Russell's death. They discuss the job that Irina wants done; a heist at the Department of Homeland Security. Franco says it is impossible as they would need 10 minutes if not more to get it done. Marcus suggests they manufacture a Code 999. When Michael asks what it means, Franco explains that a 999 means an Officer is down. Every cop in the city will go to that call, giving them all the cover they need. Michael is intrigued and tells Franco and Michael to make the 999 happen. He then tells Franco he is off to bury Russell, and stirs the drunk, depressed Gabe to bury his brother.
Marcus is hesitant on killing another officer, but Franco could care less if it gets him paid. "I don't have a problem killing a cop. I'll kill a cop like...." Franco says while snapping his fingers.
Chris is out drinking with his uncle Jeffery. He tells Jeffery he genuinely wants to make a difference. Jeffery tells him that his only concern is getting home safe every night to his wife and son. Jeffery tell his nephew that he promised his late mother that he would always look out for him and he will do everything to live up to that promise.
Michael is at home when he hears a knock at the door. It is Felix with Elena, for one of his allowed scheduled visits. Michael tells her she's late, and makes it clear he is displeased with Irina. As Felix sits in the kitchen, Elena heads into the bedroom, telling him she only has an hour before she has to leave, obviously allowing him to have sex with her.
The next day, Michael drops his son off at Irina's. One of the henchmen wants to frisk him, so he tells Felix to go find his mother. Michael looks at the man and notes You are not doing that in front of my son. When his son is out of the way, Michael lets himself be frisked. Going inside, he explodes on Irina, telling her they were going to do the job, and is pissed that she murdered Russell. "Stay the fuck away from my crew!" he barks. Irina takes the threat with ease, reminding Michael who really holds the cards. It's her, because she has his son.
Jeffery has put together a task force to investigate the robberies. They show him footage of the highway shootout and realizes that the crew has police and special forces training, intriguing him.
Chris is at home late at night, watching Marine videos when his wife comes in. Michelle tells him to stop feeling sorry for himself. He wanted to get away from the wars, and be a cop. She tells him to perk up and come to bed.
The remaining crew meets up. Marcus tells Michael he has the perfect target for the 999 ruse; his new partner Chris. When Jeffery Allen hears that his nephew has been shot, they will have all the time they need. Gabe is stoic; it is clear he is wary of doing this.
Later, Gabe is driven home by Michael. He voices his displeasure of murdering an innocent police officer that hasn't done anything wrong. He tells Michael that Russell would have found another way to make the plan happen. "Don't do this, Mike", Gabe begs.
Michael asks Gabe if he has a better idea. He then explodes on Gabe, calling him a mess and shoving him out of the car. However, it is clear that his treatment of Gabe has less to do with Gabe and his problems, but rather the pressure Michael is under. Though Michael doesn't want to kill a cop, Irina holds his kid hostage. Hell do whatever is necessary to be with his son, even if doing what he plans will cost him more of his soul.
The next day, Marcus and Chris head into known gang territory. While Marcus goes to talk to some gang members, Chris is accosted by two kids who had fallen under the sway of the gang lifestyle. He asks them if they know where the MS hand signals come from and quickly schools them on their ignorance. He tells them they need to be in school.
Jeffery meets with one of his sources Sweet Pea (Michael Kenneth Williams). For a bribe of $5,000, Sweet Pea tells him about a junkie prostitute she knows. Apparently this girl was high on drugs talking about how her man had just committed a bank robbery. The man in question is Gabe. Jeffery is intrigued.
The next day, Chris and Marcus, along with a lot of backup, are doing surveillance on a suspect of the severed head murders, his street name Termite. They watch him and his girl pretend that a parcel of dope is a child in a baby carriage, and they place it in the girlfriends car as she drives off.
Chris, carrying a shield for a four man crew, makes their way over to Termites apartment. However, Termite sees them, and begins shooting out of his window with a MAC-11 sub-machine gun. Chris and the officers return fire then head up the stairs. They break the door down and search room to room for the man. They eventually come to a room, where Termites infant son is laying on a bed with Termite apparently behind a closet door. They call out to him, asking to stop before he puts his son in any more danger. They open the closet door to reveal it goes into another room, full of weapons and drugs. They go down another flight of stairs and realize Termite has escaped his apartment. Chris gives pursuit.
As he moves around the apartment block, several MS-13 members fire on the officers, including Pinto and Termite who was hiding in a car. Chris returns fire but gets shot while Termite gets away. Marcus checks on Chris but he is fine since his vest caught it. He tells him to go. Marcus goes after Termite.
Chris soon follows behind him, following a blood trail. He finds Marcus and Termite in a death struggle, fighting each other and the control of a gun. Once Chris gets his opening, he shoots Termite in the head, saving Marcus. Marcus, in anger, shoots Termite two more times. Termites death sets off a mini-riot, leading to several arrests of MS-13. Chris is tended to by paramedics. Marcus and Chris give statements to the higher ups.
Chris goes home and kisses his wife, happy to be alive for another day.
Chris and Marcus go drinking later. Marcus admits he doesn't remember a single shot taken that day. Chris says that is normal as flight or flight response kicks in and the moment is lost in the adrenaline.
Michael is at a fancy restaurant with Irina, expecting to see Elena and Felix. Irina tells him they won't be coming and dials a number as Michael loses it. She hands the phone to him and Elena answers, and after a brief conversation with his son, learns they went on an impromptu trip to the beaches of Tel Aviv. Irina planned this, to once again show Michael who owns him. She gives him information about the Department of Homeland Security building, what he is to steal, and notes he has a 24 hour window. How he does is directly correlated to how long Felix will be away on vacation.
We see Gabe do drugs with his junkie girlfriend, further relapsing after his brother's death.
Chris and Marcus are at a strip club with some fellow officers when Marcus spots Gabe. He quickly pulls Gabe out of the building, asking if he is being stupid given any cop in there could recognize him. Gabe once again voices his objection to killing a cop, especially an innocent one. Marcus responds by punching Gabe and pushes him down some stairs. Chris comes out to check out on Marcus. Gabe sees Chris. "Is this him?" he asks Marcus. Marcus pulls him up and tells him to get out of there, NOW. Chris asks what is going. Marcus claims Gabe is a druggie snitch he used to know.
Jeffery begins to tail Gabe and his girlfriend. One of his fellow officers, Trina Ling (Michelle Ang) tells him that Gabe is actually an ex-cop who had a few marks on his record who was finally kicked off the force due to a suspicious shooting.
Jeffery entraps Gabe's girlfriend in a drug bust. Sitting a car with her, he does some of her drugs and then tells her This can go down one of two ways for you obviously wanting information on Gabe.
Gabe is being tailed by Trina, only for him to stop outside of Chris house. She calls Jeffery about where Gabe is at and immediately calls for backup. Hearing sirens, Gabe hops over a fence and escapes before police arrive. When Jeffery arrives, Chris asks what is wrong. Jeffery doesn't tell him much.
Realizing something is up, Jeffery presses his task force for answers. He learns of Michael, who worked with Russell as Private Military Contractors for Blackwater. Russell almost got charged with arms dealing but Michael was able to make the charges go away. Jeffery realizes that the three of them ran in the same crew, but there are still two of them out there, possibly cops. Jeffery also learns of their connection to Irina, a known Russian mobster whose husband is so dangerous, he was jailed in prison in Russia by Putin without charges.
Franco calls Michael, and tells him Gabe is under surveillance and he soon might be too. Franco tells him Gabe is a liability. "I'm not asking you. I'm telling you to do something about Gabe", Franco says.
Gabe is hiding out in a hotel when he gets a picture on his phone of his girlfriend tied up. He calls the phone to have Michael pick up and threaten her life if Gabe does not disappear immediately. Gabe promises to leave town, and pleads with Michael to let her go. Michael hangs up, leaving Gabe despondent. Though it appears he was convinced and Michael apparently spares the girl.
The next day, Jeffery learns from Trina and others that Gabe has disappeared, Michael hasn't been at his apartment in days, and that the courts denied their warrant for surveillance against Irina. Jeffery unloads on his fellow officers telling them they better give him something soon.
Michael, Franco, and Marcus meet up. Franco asks if Marcus is ready to do what needs to be done.
On patrol, Chris and Marcus drive. Chris notices that Marcus is nervous and has his gun out resting on his legs. Chris asks if he is okay, and Marcus says he is. They drive out to the Public Housing projects, obstinately to meet with an informant. The place is abandoned and falling apart, with no lights. They both go in, but when Chris looks one way, Marcus disappears from view. Chris calls for him but gets no answer.
At the DHS facility, Franco and Michael wait for the Triple 9 call to go over the police scanner.
As Chris continues to search for Marcus, we see that Pinto is lying in wait with a gun.
Marcus falls to the floor and breaks down. He is deeply conflicted with the plan he has set in motion.
As Chris continues to search, Gabe shows up, with a gun in his hands. Gabe tries to explain to Chris that he is being set up to be killed, but Chris just tells him to drop the gun. As this happens, Pinto comes out and shoots off several rounds before escaping. Chris looks up and realizes that Gabe was shot in the neck. He tries to stop the bleeding and call out for Marcus. Marcus arrives and sees Gabe, realizing he tried to stop the murder from happening. Gabe sees Marcus raising his gun to kill them both, so he returns fire. Marcus gets off a few shots, killing Gabe, but Gabe gets off one shot that hits Marcus in the head. Chris checks on his partner only to realize he has been shot in the head. Marcus is alive, but barely. He gets on the radio and calls out a Triple 9, Officer down.
Hearing the call over the radio, Michael and Franco proceed, not realizing it was Marcus that was shot. They proceed to break into the DHS building, incapacitating the guards with Electric shotgun shells. They proceed to tie them up and even attach C4 to some of them.
Jeffery learns of the Triple 9 and thinks Chris is in danger or dead. Just as Marcus predicted, he races along with the other cops to the location of the shooting. As they drive, Jeffery learns of a 211, a Robbery at the DHS building. He ignores it, thinking his nephew is more important. Eventually, he lets Trina check the call out.
Michael tells the DHS guards they are going to do what they say or else. To prove they are not messing around, he sets off a C4 charge on a guards leg, taking his foot almost completely off. He points to a guard with a charge on his head, saying he has 10 times the amount as the other guy did. A female guard says they cant help, since the vault is on a time lock which they cannot open.
Michael and Franco use explosives on the door, opening it. As Michael opens the box he needs with a blowtorch, Franco tells him the 211 calls has been put out and they got 7 minutes to get out. Michael gets what they need, bringing out two guards as shields. By this time, SWAT has arrived, and opens fire on the van as they leave, peppering their van with bullets. Michael and Franco get away though. Michael gets a hand wound, while Franco is shaken. Franco calls his boss, saying he heard about the Triple 9 and will be on the scene shortly, covering himself.
At the scene of the shooting, Marcus is airlifted to the hospital. Getting to the scene, Jeffery finds out that Chris is okay and that Marcus was actually shot by Gabe, a man he doesn't know though had seen twice. He also tells Jeffery Luis Pinto was there too, and learns that SWAT has Pinto surrounded. Franco shows up like nothing is wrong but as he walks away, Jeffery notices he has a limp. He comes to suspect him as the last member of the crew.
That night, Michael meets Irina with two of her henchman. He hands over a gun and a wrapped box, saying it is a present for Felix. Irina shows herself and tells Michael to hand over the loot. He hands the boxes over, and Irina unlocks one with a key she got from the bank job. Inside are all the files she will need to get her husband released. She then asks about Michael's crew. He claims they are gone. Irina says not to play with her, saying she has all the contacts she needs to find them. Michael having enough with her asks about his son. When she stalls, he beats up her men and looks inside the car, only to find no one there. The two men proceed to beat him up and shoot a gun near his ear, temporarily deafening him.
Irina finally lets her veneer drop and equates Michael to a monkey, and says Elena must have been disgusted every time she had sex with him. Irina says she really wants to kill him, but Elena begged her not to. Plus, Felix would never forgive her if she killed his father. Irina says she will give Felix the toy, a final gift from his father. Irina tells Michael to take the money and never look for his son because she will find out and kill him for sure (it is now fully clear that Irina never intended for him having a part in his son's life). She then drives off with her men.
However, Michael has other things in mind. Afraid she would do what she just did, he double crosses her. The toy for Felix is actually rigged with C4. He triggers the bomb, killing Irina and her goons. He smirks as he drives past the destroyed car.
Chris is at the hospital, waiting on word about Marcus. He learns Luis Pinto is dead. Going to the morgue, he looks at Pintos things and notices a note about being at the project housing at 4pm. He realizes Pinto was there to kill him.
Michael is pulled over by a cop. Holding a gun at the door, he opens the window, only to find that is Franco messing with him. Michael notes Marcus is still alive, but Franco says he will kill him just like he killed Gabe's junkie girlfriend. Franco asks if they got paid. Michael tells him they settled things. Franco says that is good and says "till the next job, eh?" Michael nods, and Franco quickly raises his gun and shoots Michael three times, killing him. Thinking no one knows about him and wanting to erase every trace, Franco decided to double cross Michael, kill him, and take the money for himself.
The next day, Chris goes to the neighborhood he was with Marcus and talks to the teenager he spoke to earlier. The kid confirms that Marcus spoke with Luis Pinto the day Marcus was shot.
Chris speaks with Jeffery about the crimes, and reveals he fears that Marcus set him up to be killed. Jeffery thinks there is merit to the theory but a lack of proof. Plus, he knows there is still one man out there, most likely a cop, doing everything to erase every trace.
Trina calls Jeffery who tells him about a woman who was shot dead. Jeffery realizes it was Gabe's girlfriend, his CI, and mentally kicks himself for allowing it to happen. He then asks Trina who the first officer on the scene was, realizing that must be the girls murderer, and the final crew member.
Chris visits Marcus at the hospital and curses him out, now knowing the truth. Chris knows that whether he lives or dies, Marcus will go down as a dirty cop. Franco shows up, apparently to kill Marcus only to be surprised that Chris is there. He tells Chris that he needs to make a full statement at the precinct and Chris follows him.
In the elevator, he gets a call from Jeffery that tells him that Franco is the last crew member and not to go anywhere. Chris feigns that the call is about something else. Chris and Franco go outside, and Franco says his car is a few lanes down and he will meet him at the station. As he walks away, Chris looks at him tensely, thinking he will try something there.
As Franco gets in his car, he sees a tie hanging around the driver mirror. In the backseat, Jeffery sits with a gun. He wasn't going to take any chances in regards to family. Franco cocks his revolver and turns it Jeffery's way. Two shots ring out. Chris hears them and pulls out his gun. He radios a code 342, and a Triple 9, thinking Franco has been shot. He then begins to advance on the vehicle.
He is correct. Franco is dead, as one of the shots was from Jeffery's gun. However, Franco got off one shot at Jeffery which has wounded him in the chest. Jeffery sits in the seat bleeding, and smokes some drugs as he bleeds out. The movie ends on a freeze frame of his face as we hear police radio and sirens in the back, making it unclear if Jeffery dies from his wounds or not.