Two hardened criminals get into trouble with the US border patrol after meeting with a Mexican drug lord, and then revelations start to unfold.
Two undercover agents (Trench and Stigman) masquerading as thugs, are set up to steal 43 million in dirty CIA drug cash by Trench’s lover and Stigman’s CO.
The heist leads to a showdown between a Navy intelligence strike team, a Mexican drug overlord, the CIA, and our two heroes who escape and use a slice of the money to plot out other heists of the CIA’s ill-gotten gains.
The movie opens with Michael ‘Stig’ Stigman (Mark Wahlberg) and Robert ‘Bobby’ Trench (Denzel Washington) pulling up to a diner in a one-horse town. Conveniently, there’s a small Savings and Loan across the street. While Stigman grabs a booth and flirts with the waitress, Trench purchases a safe deposit box, while casing the joint. Done, he hops across the street to the diner. Trench asks about their donuts, to which the waitress eagerly extolls their quality. They order some to go while Stigman runs to the bathroom. Moments later he has set off the fire alarm. Stigman tosses his lighter onto the short order grill starting a quickly-spreading grease fire. They step out just as the explosion blows out the window. FREEZE FRAME and a title reads one week earlier.
The same pair are driving to visit their buddy El Torro at Papi Greco’s ranch in Sonora, Mexico. Turns out Toro was skimming, and he was beheaded. Bobby hands over a package of bootleg passports and receives an envelope of cash. He was expecting cocaine, but Greco (Edward James Olmos) is twitchy after Toro’s betrayal. Trench hands back the cash and tells Greco to keep the passports. Now Greco owes Bobby a favor.
Stepping outside, Stigman is being a real wise-ass. Greco’s henchmen have buried several chickens in the yard up to their necks. However, even these easy targets are too difficult to kill. After taunting them hilariously, he grabs a gun and kills them all in rapid succession. The boy has skills.
Heading back to the US, their car is stopped at the border by a LOT of gun-wielding troops. Taken into separate interrogation rooms, It’s here we learn that Trench is actually an embedded DEA agent. The coke he was supposed to have was evidence against Papi Greco. Since that failed, Trench’s boss Jessup wants to pull him out. Trench lies and says he’s close to flipping the newly headless Toro. He just needs a little more time. Jessup agrees and releases the pair.
Later, we catch Trench and Deb (Paula Patton) at a motel in post-coital conversation. Trench is emotionally distant, avoiding commitment, and Deb has a boyfriend. She asks if Trench if he ever really loved her. He replies that he really meant to. Trench tells Deb that Stigman wants to rob a bank where Greco has been laundering 3 million dollars in drug money. Since the drug bust failed, he wants to catch him on tax evasion and RICO charges. She hesitantly agrees to run it by Jessup.
Trench hops over to Stigman’s apartment to tell him they will rob the bank. Stigman is suspicious of how aggressively border patrol targeted them and raises his gun to shoot Trench. LOL, it’s just a joke! They decide to shadow Papi Greco at his mistress’ house to figure out a time table. The heist is on!
Which brings us right back to the diner blowing up. With the diner shut down, the cops won’t be there to respond to the bank robbery. That’s good because they’re taking the bank the next day. Deb assures him that she’ll have assets in place to capture Stigman at 3:05 sharp.
Meanwhile, across town, Stigman meets up with some shady characters of his own. Wait a minute, they’re Navy! Turns out Stigman has been inserted to steal the drug money for covert Naval operations funding (or some such McGuffin). He leaves the scene with some extremely high-tech ordinance.
On the morning of the robbery, they don their masks and storm the police station, locking the sad sack coppers in with their most recent jailed “clients.” The heist goes off without a hitch, but, inexplicably, the 3 million is 43 MILLION. Both guys are taken aback, and Trench eyes the clock, knowing that it will take longer to bag this much cash. They begin loading the getaway car and Trench notices that the cavalry is nowhere in sight. It’s a ghost town, and they getaway easily. TOO EASILY.
Now Bill Paxton makes his appearance as Earl, a mysterious figure who wants his money back. The poor bank manager learns the hard way just how much that money means to him.
Stig and Trench go out to the desert to look at the loot. Stigman gets the drop on Trench and pulls his gun just as Trench was about to do the same. Trench can’t get his gun out, but he does hold his DEA badge. Stigman was under orders to kill Trench, but he grazes him instead. He’s developed a real friendship with the guy during his assignment. Walking over to the wounded Trench, Stigman spies the badge. “Holy Crap! You’re DEA!” Stig’s been lead to believe that Trench is dirty, but he’s not sure. He leaves Trench a bottle of water and abandons him in the desert.
Stigman takes the cash to his CO, Quince (James Marsden), at the Camino Real hotel. The officer doesn’t seem surprised that Trench was DEA, but it upset that Stigman didn’t kill him. He says the money will be transferred to a base in Corpus Christi and takes a team out to the desert to finish Trench off. Meanwhile, Trench stumbles through the desert until he encounters some self-styled border patrollers. He easily disarms them and steals their dune buggy. He makes his way to a vet to treat his bullet wound.
Stig has led the team to where Trench was supposed to be found. Quince is upset and tells the team to kill Stigman. However, Stig was expecting the double cross and makes his escape in an action-packed cat and mouse game.
Meanwhile, Earl has tracked down the vet who fixed Trench’s wound. The vet plays dumb, but the dune buggy outside has tipped them off. In the worst game of Russian roulette ever, he eventually confirms that Trench was there, but can’t tell them anymore. At the Camino Real hotel, Trench has followed Deb. He knows she’s there to meet her boyfriend, but he interrupts her. Something isn’t right, but he says he’s headed over to his boss’ house to update him on the situation.
Unfortunately, Earl made it to Jessup first. While he’s grilling him, Trench arrives. Jessup is shot, and Trench is subjected to a round of Russian roulette. Fortunately, he wins, but Jessup is shot. Earl shoots Jessup three more times with Trench’s semi-automatic. Now Trench is on the hook for his boss’ death. Earl wants his money.
Trench heads over to Stig’s apartment, but it’s empty. Stig is on the roof across the street looking at him through a military grade rifle sight. After some banter, Stig realizes that his instincts were right. Trench is a good guy, and he helps him escape from the hit squad his CO has sent to kill him. They both get away… Only to meet up the next day at the house of Papi’s mistress. They grab Greco and lead a hilarious car chase through the desert where they fight it out until reaching detente. They take him to a garage for interrogation. Deb’s garage. It’s here we learn that Earl is CIA. They’ve stolen 43 million from a covert government op.
While Trench talks to Deb in the kitchen, Stig spies movement out of the corner of his eye. Someone’s here. It’s another hit squad. In the midst of the confusion Papi escapes. Trench, Stig and Deb hop into a car and speed off. Just as Trench is grilling Deb on how Stig’s people knew where to find him, they get SMASHED by a heavy truck and are instantly surrounded by Papi’s crew.
Papi has them hanging upside down in a barn at his ranch. He PISSES ON HIS OWN HANDS before grabbing an axe handle and working them over. Stig and Trench reveal that they have the money and will deliver it to Papi. “Don’t you want 43 million?” Suddenly, Papi is called from the barn. Earl is here! Earl’s condescending attitude annoys Papi and he decides to take Earl’s money from him. The fellas have 24 hours to get it back to him or Deb will die (He apparently nabbed her after he got the boys).
After they cross the border, they steal a car to get onto base. Stig knows the money is there because Quinn told him during their rendezvous at the Camino Real hotel. They stop off at an old Navy buddy’s shop to get some additional gear and head to the base. Except, there’s no plan to get onto the base where Quinn has the loot. Improvising an INSANE gate crash, Stigman drops Trench off at Quinn’s office while he leads the MPs on a wild goose chase. Stopping at the Admiral’s offices, he tells his amazing story WHILE Trench confronts Quinn at the office. Trench explains that he knows Quinn is Deb’s lover. Since the money is not on base, he realizes that Deb has it. The clock is ticking.
The admiral respects Stigman’s honesty, but washes his hands of the messy affair. He will not besmirch the Navy’s reputation with this sordid affair. He orders Stigman taken off base and sends a SWAT crew to apprehend Quinn. In the resulting confusion, Quinn escapes and Trench improvises an explosion to cover his getaway. He grabs a MP vehicle and heads back to save Deb. She knows it’s too late for her and tells Greco that Trench has no idea where the money is. Besides Greco was going to kill them both anyway. Papi calls Trench and hands the phone to Deb. She tearfully apologizes to him as he tries to convince her to tell Greco he has the money. She really meant to love him. Too late. Greco kills her with Trench still on the line. He meets Stig at the buddy’s shop. Stig wants revenge… to kill them all, but Trench is defeated. He loved Deb after all. There’s no more fight left in him.
After the long drive from Corpus, Trench makes it home. Deb’s dead body has been dropped off there. He is visibly shaken, but notices a ring Deb wore during their hook-ups. She always shifted the ring to the other hand as she left Trench in their motel room. A flashbulb goes off! He heads back to the room and discovers the money in the baseboard of the bed. He calls Earl to arrange a meet-up.
Cut to Stig at Papi’s ranch. He’s driven the getaway car there, and claims to have the money in the trunk. He’s one guy vs. a ranch full of blood-thristy drug or is he? Quinn is there with a strike team that takes out some of Papi’s troops with an RPG. While Quinn and Papi are negotiating a split of the money, Earl swoops in with a military helicopter. Now all that’s missing is the money! Trench rolls up in a candy apple red ’64 Impala, packed to the gills with Earl’s money. Per their agreement, Trench and Stig are to walk free. While grateful, Stig can’t believe Trench is going to let them get away with it. Trench has a plan. He blows the car sending millions of dollars into the air and providing cover. In the ensuing mayhem, Papi is injured, and the goons get taken out until only Earl, Quinn, Trench and Stig remain in a literal Mexican stand-off. Earl tries to talk his way out of the situation. They’ve got caches of cash in 20 or more banks. This little speed bump changes nothing. Relying on Stig’s amazing aim, Trench takes out Quinn while Stig caps Earl.
On their way off the ranch, they fill Papi with a little more lead for his ruthless murder of Trench’s one true love. As payback for Stig shooting him, Trench gives him a flesh wound in the leg. Papi’s house-maids efficiently scoop up wads of undamaged cash as they walk off into the sunset.
Jump cut to the pair casing another bank in another small town. Stig asks about their donuts; the waitress says they suck. A good sign. Trench pulls out a stack of 100s for a tip. Why is he so flush with cash? He skimmed some from Earl’s take! (He knew Earl was never going to count it after all). The movie ends with Trench’s knowing smile. They’re going after ALL of Earl’s cash!