Pete Koslow (Joel Kinnaman) is a former special operations soldier and veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan. After serving time for killing a man in a bar fight, while trying to protect his wife Sofia (Ana de Armas), Pete now works as a drug courier for the Polish mafia in New York, a cartel run by Rysard Klimek aka The General (Eugene Lipinski), a ruthless gangster.
But Pete is also an informant for the FBI, providing information to Agent Erica Wilcox (Rosamund Pike), who is building a case against The General. Wilcox’s off-the-books operation is reaching its end game, and both she and Pete hope the latest fentanyl consignment, smuggled into the US in diplomatic pouches, will lead to his arrest. And when The General goes down, Pete, his wife and their eight-year-old daughter Anna (Karma Meyer) will finally be free.
But when Stazek Cusik (Mateusz Kosciukiewicz), The General’s ice-cold, trigger-happy nephew, decides do a little side business, rather than take the shipment of straight to The General, Wilcox’s sting quickly unravels. The buyer turns out to be Daniel Gomez (Arturo Castro), an undercover, New York police officer. Pete tries to warn him off, but the nervy Gomez pulls a gun on Pete, and Stazek shoots him dead.
Wilcox panics, and rather than extract Pete as planned, she leaves him in the lurch. Pete and Stazek visit The General who tells Pete he now owes his life to Stazek. In return, Pete must break his parole and return to Bale Hill Prison, where he was previously incarcerated, to take over the drug operation there.
Gomez’s partner, First Grade Detective Edward Grens (Common) from Organised Crime, begins to investigate Gomez’s murder, mistakenly believing Pete to be responsible. Meanwhile, Pete meets with Wilcox and her boss, Agent Montgomery (Clive Owen), who demand he goes along with The General’s plan, insisting it’s the only way to salvage the mess and put him away for good. Once inside Bale Hill, Pete is to gather a list of inmates and prison guards involved in The General’s business, and pass that information onto the Warden. Pete isn’t keen on going back to Bale Hill and Montgomery threatens him with arrest as an accessory in the murder of a NYPD officer. He’ll go back to jail anyway, says Montgomery, and his family will never stop running.
As Grens’ digs deeper into Pete’s background, he suspects he might be an FBI informer and not be as guilty as he initially thought. Grens rocks up at the New York field office to question Montgomery and Wilcox, but they deny any knowledge of Pete’s existence. Following Grens’ visit, Montgomery orders Wilcox to “burn” Pete before the New York Police discover the truth behind Gomez’s murder. Wilcox is conflicted, only too aware that burning Pete will result in his death. Nevertheless, putting her career before her informant’s safety, she informs The General’s lawyer that Pete is a snitch. Realising he’s been cut loose and his life’s in grave danger, Pete telephones Sofia, telling her to take their daughter and run. But before they can flee, Stazek heads to Pete’s house to take care of Sofia and Anna. Grens arrives just in time to prevent their murder, but is wounded in the subsequent shootout. Sofia kills Slazek in self-defence.
Back at Bale Hill, an inmate tries to stab Pete. He survives the attack and uses the ensuing commotion to take Slewitt (Sam Spruell), a crooked corrections officer, hostage. Pete exploits the resultant stand-off with the Police and FBI to engineer a gas explosion and escapes from prison in an ambulance, dressed as a prison guard. He is aided in his breakout by Wilcox, whose conscience finally gets the better of her.
With Pete in the wind, Sofia and Anna are taken into protective custody. Wilcox meets with Montgomery on the Stanton Island ferry. It’s a trap. Wilcox is wearing a wire and Montgomery is arrested for corruption, obstruction of justice, and his role in the cover-up of Gomez’s murder.
Later, Pete is told by Grens to lay low until the FBI and NYPD arrest The General. Only then can Pete be reunited with his family.