A US Marshall service car is parked at a gas station, while Conor Gallagher (Bill Pullman) is in the bathroom taking some medication, another car pulls onto the forecourt. Two men get out and start shooting at the marshals. Gallagher heard the shooting and exits the bathroom as the prisoner they were escorting gets into the getaway car. Gallagher shoots the assailants, then at the car as it pulls away. After emptying his own weapon, he uses those of the attackers, he stops the car and it explodes in flames.
Nine months later, in Washington D.C., a parcel bomb explodes in the office of Federal Judge, Faith Mattis (Lena Olin).
As a result, Gallagher is assigned as the bodyguard to Judge Mattis, who is presiding over an investigation into an alleged conspiracy within the US Army.
At the hearing, an usher checks that the next witness, Sergeant Douglas Penabad (Hrothgar Mathews), is waiting outside the courtroom, but when the Sergeant is called into court, he is no longer there.
Gallagher arrives at the court building and starts up the front steps just as Penabad runs down them and disappears.
At first Mattis refuses his protection, she doesn't take the perceived threat to her life very seriously and believes that she can handle it alone. But Gallagher outsmarts her by having her car towed away so that she is forced to accept his company on the drive to her home.
When they arrive at her house, she goes inside while Gallagher prowls around the grounds. While getting changed, Mattis sees her Mercedes sports car being dropped off in the drive, so she sneaks out, gets into her car and prepares to drive away. Gallagher stops her.
He persuades her to let him accompany her to a prestigious cocktail party.
She likes to drive fast, and he tries to get her to slow down. They are followed by a white van and he tells her to leave the highway, but when Mattis does pull off the road at an intersection, the van turns off. She still is not amused at having a bodyguard, but eventually realizes that she is stuck with him, and they agree to some rules about the way he carries out his job.
Sgt. Penabad, now in civilian clothes, is in bar talking to Russo (Michael Ironside). After the conversation, a black woman propositions Penabad, and he goes with her to a dressing room and gives her some money. She sits on his lap for a moment then says that she has to go to the little girls' room. She reaches under the counter and takes out a gun. While she is in there, Penabad switches on the television to a news broadcast. The anchorwoman says that there has been an accident in a training camp in Virginia, in which a soldier has died. The details of the accident are top secret, and there is no further news at the moment. He is very perturbed by the news, and he runs away. She chases after him but he seems to have vanished, she then phones Major Brunson and tells him that Penabad has got away.
When General Joel MacAteer (Colm Feore) arrives at the party to rounds of applause, Brunson indicates that Penabad has not yet been dealt with.
Peter Scanlon (Nicholas Lea), who works as a reporter in Washington D.C., is already at the party, and on the look out for the arrival of his ex-wife Faith Mattis.
At the entrance to the gala, a military guard, who refuses to let him in, stops Gallagher. There is obvious a lot of antipathy, between Gallagher and Major Brunson, the officer in charge of security, who makes scathing remakes about him being a bodyguard, and forces him to give up his weapon.
While he is arguing with Brunson, Mattis carries on inside, and meets up with Peter Scanlon. He draws her away from the crowd for a quiet talk. Before they part, he kisses her hand (very sexy), he is still in love with her.
Having been finally let into the building, Gallagher climbs up a flight of stairs to take a look around and try to spot his charge. He sees Mattis drinking and talking, and as he turns to descend the stairs again he sees the van that had been following Faith's car earlier drive into the garage.
Suspicious, Gallagher follows it, passing Peter who is standing at the bottom the stairs watching his fellow guests, occasionally sipping his drink.
Gallagher goes into the garage, and spots the van parked fairly near the Judge's car. Going over to the Mercedes he sees an open case and when he looks underneath the car, he spots what can only be a bomb. As he gets to his feet again the assassin attacks him and Gallagher just manages to duck in time. After a long chase the assassin strips off his jacket and hides amongst the stage hands, and Gallagher doesn't recognize him in shirtsleeves.
Scanlon, seeing the General nearby, decides to go over and talk to him. He asks MacAteer if he has a few moments to talk to him.
The General replies that their scheduled interview is at 10 o'clock tomorrow morning.
Peter makes a joke about the Pentagon pressroom smelling of stale doughnuts and cheap coffee, to which the General replies that if he doesn't like it he can stay at home.
Not put off, Peter then asks if there is a connection between the President hurrying to finish his military reforms, and the MC111 case.
The General denies that there is a case to answer, and tells Scanlon that the evidence they will present will prove that. As he walks away, he suggests that Peter ought to go out and jump under a bus.
Scanlon pretends to cough, and calls the General an a**hole.
After leaving Peter, Faith goes back to the reception and meets with Chief Justice Jarrett (George Touliatos). They talk for a while, then General MacAteer who is very pleasant to the two federal judges joins them.
When the General has left, Jarrett makes some remarks to Mattis that annoy her, and spoils her enjoyment of the evening. She decides to leave and goes to get her car.
Frustrated in his search, Gallagher returns to the main part of the building, just in time to see Mattis picking up the keys to her car. Gallagher hurries after her and reaches the garage just as she gets into the Mercedes, he shouts a warning to her but she ignores him and pulls away. He chases after her and shouts out for her to stop, but she makes a rude gesture and keeps going down the exit ramps. He jumps over barriers to keep chasing after her, and eventually manages to push a garbage bin into the path of the car. Ignoring her protests, he drags her out of the car just before the bomb explodes. He manages to get them around a corner and up the final ramp, before the flames can reach them.
The noise of the explosion causes everyone to rush out to see what has occurred. Amongst the crowd is Peter, and he takes off his jacket, wraps it around the very shaken Faith, and leads her back into the building.
Back at the Judge's house the Feds are installing surveillance equipment. Having had such a close call, Mattis is forced to accept that she needs to be guarded constantly.
While the installation is being carried out, Gallagher goes to a swimming pool to watch his ex-wife, Samantha, getting his disabled daughter, Ella, to jump into the pool and swim back to the side. After he shows appreciation for his daughter's efforts, his ex-wife takes Ella away. His lawyer has followed him there and is talking to him about his access rights to his daughter. He hasn't seen her for over 18 months. The lawyer tells him that has lost his right to see his daughter because of his drug problems. He must stay clean.
Gallagher goes home, and while the repairman is servicing his washing machine, Conor goes upstairs to watch some home movies of happier times when he and his wife were together. Faith arrives, and talks to him. She thanks him for saving her life, and would like him to return to being her bodyguard.
That night, back at Mattis's house, Conor and another marshal are on watch. When his companion goes out into the storm to patrol the grounds, Conor takes over the TV surveillance. The phone rings. It's Peter; he and Faith have an intimate conversation which makes Gallagher uncomfortable. Peter reminds her that had they still been married, next Thursday would have been their fifth anniversary, and he persuades her to have dinner with him.
Unable to watch, or listen to the conversation any longer, Gallagher goes outside and sees the torch that his colleague had been carrying lying in a puddle. He goes looking for the guard and finds him unconscious. He uses the man's radio to call for assistance, then goes into Mattis's house to find her arguing with Sgt. Penabad, who points a gun at Gallagher while holding on to Mattis. Gallagher lays down his weapon and Penabad pushes the judge into Conor's arms, then jumps over the balcony railing and disappears into the night.
Both FBI personnel and the police answer the call for help. Gallagher brings them up to date with the situation. Then, just as Gallagher turns away from talking to a colleague from the Marshall service, the black woman who was chasing Penabad tries to push past them. Gallagher stops her and asks her business, she identifies herself as Lt. Kayla[sp?] Rayne, then Major Brunson arrives and asks if there is a problem. Gallagher wants to know why they are there, to which Brunson replies that it's a Military case. Gallagher more or less tells them to go away, it's in the FBI's hands, which leads to a scuffle in which Gallagher comes off best. The resulting stand-off is interrupted by Mattis coming into the room.
Gallagher goes out into the garden to cool off, and after a few minutes the Judge comes out to join him.
She says that Penabad has given her a key to a locker, and she wants Gallagher to go with her to retrieve the contents. Eventually he agrees to accompany her. When she hands over the key she is given an envelope in exchange, inside are some photographs. The photographs show soldiers involved in the desert storm action. Some of the soldiers in the photo are now involved in the conspiracy case she is investigating, including Douglas Penabad.
Brunson and Rayne watch them from a large black car parked an alley across the road.
The next morning, Gallagher is waiting outside the judge's chambers, and when she joins him in the corridor she shows him one of the photographs, and she identifies one of the men as Russo, apparently in the same squad as Penabad in the Gulf War. She also shows him an envelope on which is written some sort of serial number.
A short time later, in the deserted courtroom, Mattis questions Gen. MacAteer while Gallagher looks on.
Meanwhile, in an apartment building, Penabad climbs the stairs. At the top of the flight, he cautiously looks around, and spots Rayne leaning on the railings on the next floor up. [capture]. He goes to turn back when he spots Brunson coming up the flight below him, since there is no escape that way, he has to take a chance and walk along the corridor, away from the Lieutenant. She spots him and gives chase. he quickly turns a corner and races to the end of the corridor where he tries to open the window but it is jammed shut. Looking for another way out, he pauses by the railings on a cross-corridor and Rayne shoots at him. Penabad ducks just in time, then runs down one floor where he bumps into Brunson, who murders him, throwing his body over the railings to land at the bottom of the stairwell. Russo sees the fatal fall, and moves quickly out of the building.
Brunson reports back to MacAteer. He tells the General that Penabad is dead; that they have everything under control as they are in control of the investigation into the Sergeant's death. They also talk about Faith Mattis and the reason she has a bodyguard; they want to get rid of Gallagher
Back at his own house, Gallagher watches a news program about the President coming to Seattle, then a very agitated Judge Mattis arrives. They talk about Penabad's death. She wants him to help her to investigate it, but Gallagher says that it's not his job to investigate the case. Their conversation is interrupted by a phone call, with the news that he is going to be allowed to visit his daughter.
In a workshop, the assassin is preparing another bomb, when the outside door opens. he stares at his visitors for a few moments, then while Rayne stands guard, Brunson walks in and gives a metal case to the assassin.
Later, Gallagher is trying to decide what tie to wear when he goes to meet his daughter when he gets a phone call from Mattis, after the call he hears a noise and turns towards the door. Brunson and two other men barge in, Gallagher quickly deals with the two men, but Rayne uses a taser on him and he crashes to the floor.
Brunson and Rayne inject him with a drug. Afterwards, they take him to a warehouse and offer a girl some money, when she accepts it, Brunson punches her, and then they all leave the building.
Ella Gallagher is waiting for her father to arrive, and gets more and more withdrawn when he doesn't arrive.
The girl who took the money from Brunson leads the cops to where Gallagher is lying, she tells the cops that he wanted to buy drugs from her.
Back a home, Gallagher is very annoyed about missing the meeting with Ella, he tries to phone but his ex-wife won't take the call. His anger rising, he picks up his gun and storms out of the house, and as he tries to back his car out of the drive, Mattis's new car pulls in behind him. She talks to him then shows him an envelope that she has been sent, which has a contract for hiring a boat at the nearby harbour inside, after she has calmed him down, he goes back into the house and she drives away.
That night, Mattis goes down to the docks and goes aboard a small vessel, "Tobascus". When she goes into the wheelhouse, she is attacked and held at gunpoint by the assassin. Making sure that the gun doesn't waver, he opens the metal case that Brunson gave him and pushes a button which starts a timer going. As he backs away towards the door, Gallagher arrives and knocks the gun out of the assassin's hand. A fight ensues during which Gallagher sees that there are packs of explosives attached all over the boat. He disables their attacker and pulls Mattis ashore with him, they dive behind some crates as the bomb explodes killing the assassin. They stay in shelter for a few minutes, then he helps her to stand and walk away.
In the drawing room of a luxurious mansion MacAteer and some other Military men are laughing and drinking, and giving their opinion that the President is a stupid jerk. Brunson comes into the room, and catches MacAteer's eye. The general excuses himself and two men then leave the room for a quiet talk.
Brunson reports that they failed to kill Gallagher and Mattis. MacAteer says that they must be dealt with, and also they must find Russo, the last surviving soldier from the photograph, who has an important CD about Operation Glory, which could prevent the conspiracy succeeding.
Gallagher and Mattis are waiting outside Mrs Russo's house when she arrives home with her shopping. While she is unpacking they ask her some questions. She tells them that during operation Desert Storm her ex-husband had been charged with smuggling morphine.
She gives them a box and a bag of personal items belonging to her ex-husband to sort through. Secreted behind a picture in a frame they find the CD-ROM. As they remove it from its hiding place, they hear the sound of a helicopter overhead, then Brunson, Rayne and others arrive by car. There is a shootout, and Conor and Faith escape using the helicopter. During the escape Faith drops Conor's gun.
After the helicopter has disappeared from sight, Rayne sees the gun lying in the grass, she picks it up and takes it back into the house and gives it to Brunson. He uses it to murder Mrs Russo in cold blood.
Conor lands the chopper inside the grounds of what appears to be a deserted factory. They go inside one of the buildings and he finds a PC to play the CD. It contains details of "Operation Glory", there are pages of columns of numbers which he prints out. Faith takes out her notebook which has the envelope folded inside it, Gallagher tries it on the CD to see if it is a password, SDA7015REEFER489, but it doesn't work. Conor takes off his jacket and She sees a glass dolphin hanging from a chain around his neck. She asks if he likes fish, he replies that his daughter likes them.
Meanwhile, at a reception, Gen. MacAteer is talking to a white-haired, lady Senator about are talking about the Military reforms and about Operation Glory. He is trying to enlist her help.
Back at the factory, while Conor is half watching and listening to a TV news broadcast showing a demonstration outside the dock gates, he realizes that the letters SDA stand for the Seattle Dock Authority. They go there but get little help from the officials. So, that night, they cut their way through the perimeter wire of the storage area, and find the container to which the numbers refer.
It is already unlocked so they go inside, and start to look around. It contains drawer after drawer of medicines.
Russo comes in, and after they convince him they are not a threat to him, he tells them it was MacAteer that caught them smuggling morphine and made a deal with them; they tell him where the drugs are and he drops the charges against them. MacAteer then takes over the drug-smuggling operation. Russo also tells them that this is one container out of many hundreds, even thousands, full of drugs and weapons, that MacAteer and his conspirators have placed all over the country.
After Russo leaves, they go back to the factory, from where Faith telephones Peter. He is worried about her as they have told him she has been hi-jacked. She says that she hasn't got time to tell him the whole story, but that Gallagher is faxing him some papers which must be given to Judge Virgil as soon as possible. She knows that the judge will not be available until noon, but she pleads with Peter to give them to the Judge personally.
"What are they?" he asks.
"They are pages of accounts which uncover a fraud within the Army. General MacAteer is involved and they are killing anyone who knows about it."
She tells him not to try investigating this himself.
Peter says okay. He then tells Faith that he loves her. She doesn't respond to that, just gives him a telephone number on which the Judge should call her back.
After reading through the faxed material, Peter conflicted about what he should do. He makes the mistake of phoning General MacAteer.
Conor and Faith wait in a café for the Judge or Peter to contact them. When neither of them phones, Faith rings Peter's number, but there is no reply... he is floating face down in his rooftop swimming pool.
Once more, Brunson and his squad turn up, and they leave via the back door. Two men in a car, who take them by helicopter to Calhoun Airforce Base, rescue them from Brunson. As they enter the base's building they are surrounded by Brunson and his squad, the rescue was just a ruse to get them there. General MacAteer makes a speech, telling them about his plan for killing the president. The missile launch will be sabotaged which will kill the President and his senior advisors, so he will be able to take over the running of the country.
After the General leaves, Brunson punches Gallagher in the stomach. Gallagher responds by head-butting the Major and taking his gun. He shoots the guards, and a pipe to create havoc and set the alarms off. He also shoots Rayne, when Faith warns him about her preparing to shoot him in the back.
He tells gives Faith the dolphin necklace and tells her to run away, he must try to prevent the President being assassinated. He leaves her and she starts trying to get way, however is captured and taken by Brunson to the entrance to the tunnels under the missile launching pads.
While the base personnel hunt Gallagher, MacAteer leaves the base in his chauffeur-driven limousine, where he is watching the preparations for the launch on television.
Brunson takes Faith and a large case into the maze of passages on a purpose-built truck. Deep inside, he takes her and the case into the exhaust tunnels under the pad over which is the missile to be fired that day.
From where he is hiding, Conor sees Brunson transfer Faith into the back of the truck, and he follows them into the tunnels on a motorcycle he spots standing nearby.
The presidential party arrives and they taken to the observation platform.
By this time, Brunson has left the truck with Faith and the large case, and taken them into the chamber directly beneath the missile. He handcuffs Faith to a hatch wheel, then opens the case and starts to arm the bomb that is inside.
Conor arrives in the chamber, still riding the motorcycle, and sideswipes Brunson with it. Then, ignoring the Major, he starts to defuse the bomb. Brunson stirs, grabs the gun and tries to stop Conor. The countdown to launch is almost finished and the warning lights are switched on which distract the Major for long enough for Gallagher to get the gun away from him again. Instead of fighting, Brunson starts walking up the tunnel back towards the place where he left the truck.
Conor pulls out the last of the wires and the timer stops. He shoots the handcuff chain to release Faith, then they start climbing up the ladder leading from the exhaust tunnels to the ground above, directly beneath the missile.
As Brunson nears the end of the tunnel, thousands of gallons of water are funnelled through it, and he is swept away by a wall of water.
Conor and Faith climb out as run as far away from the missile as they can get, and when the countdown reaches zero, they fling themselves to the ground.
The missile is launched without incident and when General MacAteer sees the successful launch he tells his driver to stop the car. He gets out, looks up at the sky and commits suicide by shooting himself in the head.
At the Gallagher house, some time later, Faith drives up. She goes into the house; the TV is showing the arrest of the conspirators. When no one answers he call she looks out into the garden and sees Conor playing with his daughter. She winds the chain of the dolphin necklace around the door handle and prepares to drive away again. Conor stops her.
He asks her what she is doing there. She gets out of the car, they kiss, and then he takes her to meet Ella.
The girl holds out her hand, Faith takes it, and Conor puts his hand over the other two.
I'd lke to say a big THANK YOU to "Ratthy" without whom this synopsis would never have been written.