Secret Service Agent Mike Banning is framed for the attempted assassination of the President and must evade his own agency and the FBI as he tries to uncover the real threat.
Secret Service Agent Mike Banning has been suffering from many medical problems due to his last couple of country-saving heroics. To add to the pressure, President Alan Trumbull is offering Mike the position of Secret Service Director. While on a fishing trip, a drone attack kills Trumbull’s protection detail and almost kills him as well until Mike saves him. Mike is then framed for the attack due to his DNA being planted in the van used to carry out the drone attack.
While in custody, members of a paramilitary group called Salient Global try to apprehend Mike, as they and their CEO, Wade Jennings, were the true masterminds behind the attacks, alongside Vice President Martin Kirby. The plan was to start a war with Russia by claiming their involvement with Mike in the attack, which would allow Salient to gain multiple contracts and clients. Mike is forced to team up with his estranged father Clay to kill the bad guys and to protect Mike’s wife and daughter.
Eventually, Mike makes it back to Trumbull’s hospital to explain his innocence. Jennings and his men try to blow up the hospital to finish off Trumbull, but Mike helps the other agents evacuate the hospital and protect Trumbull. The Salient agents are killed or arrested before Mike fights Jennings and fatally stabs him.
Mike is vindicated and Kirby is arrested. Clay stays with Mike and his family. Mike finally accepts the Director position.
Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) undergoes training at a private military facility, and is recommended for the position of Secret Service Director by the President of the United States, Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman), to replace retiring Director David Gentry (Lance Reddick). Banning hides the fact that he is suffering from migraines and insomnia with regular visits to several doctors, and begins taking medication to cope with recurring back pain.
While the President is on a rural fishing trip, armed drones attack his protection detail, with only Banning surviving and saving the President; both are incapacitated, with Trumbull in a coma. FBI Agent Helen Thompson (Jada Pinkett Smith) finds substantial evidence that Banning may be responsible for the attack, with the van used to carry out the attack containing Banning’s hair and DNA. Banning is subsequently arrested.
En route to a detention facility, Banning and his transport are ambushed. He escapes after killing the assailants, revealed to be agents who took part in his training exercise. Banning calls his wife Leah (Piper Perabo), letting her know he is alive. The call alerts Thompson to Banning’s location, leading to a car chase. but Banning escapes again before heading to his father’s home in the woods.
With Trumbull still comatose, Vice President Martin Kirby (Tim Blake Nelson) is sworn in as Acting President. It is revealed that Wade Jennings (Danny Huston), Banning’s friend and former fellow Army Ranger now CEO of paramilitary company Salient Global, has framed him. Via surveillance cameras, Banning and his father Clay (Nick Nolte) observe Jennings’ men approaching the house; Clay detonates explosives around the perimeter, killing the would-be attackers as he and Banning escape, and Banning reveals to his father that he has a wife and daughter. Leah and her daughter are on the verge of being kidnapped by Jennings’ men when Clay saves them. Kirby reveals to the press that Banning is responsible for the assassination attempt with support from the Russian government.
Finding the bodies around Clay’s cabin, Thompson deduces that Banning was set up. Thompson and another agent meet Jennings, who kills them both. Trumbull awakens from his coma, and Kirby is revealed to be involved with Jennings. Kirby plans to retaliate for the President’s “attempted assassination” by attacking Russia. Banning reaches Trumball’s hospital and is captured, but Trumbull orders his release. Banning leads Trumbull to safety with help from Gentry and other loyal agents, as Jennings destroys the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit by increasing the oxygen and nitrogen supply to unstable levels, causing an explosion.
Banning hides Trumbull and Gentry as Jennings’ men pursue them. After a long gun battle, Jennings attempts to escape via helicopter, which Banning destroys. They face off hand-to-hand, and Banning mortally stabs Jennings. Banning is exonerated while Trumbull and Gentry arrest Kirby for treason due to the evidence uncovered by Thompson. Clay decides to live with Banning and his family. Feeling guilty over his failure to protect Trumbull, as well as his undisclosed ailments, Banning offers his resignation, but Trumbull forgives his mistakes and offers Banning the promotion to Director of the Secret Service, which he accepts.
The film starts with Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) undergoing a military training exercise in which he runs through a building while being shot at. He takes out all the targets in his way until he makes it outside the facility and gets shot himself by his teammate Wade Jennings (Danny Huston). One of the other teammates, Bruno (Rocci-Boy Williams), gets pissed at Mike for knocking him down the stairs, though Mike defends himself by reminding him that if he doesn’t play it like it’s real, then he will die when it is real. Mike then walks with Jennings, who talks about his paramilitary company, Salient Global, while also bringing up Mike’s potential promotion to Secret Service Director, which leads to Jennings requesting that Mike could put in a good word for a contract for his team to train in that field. Mike promises to do what he can.
Lately, Mike has been suffering from migraines and insomnia. He has gone to see doctors about it, but has been keeping it from the now President Alan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) and his wife Leah (Piper Perabo). One doctor even refers to him as a “disaster waiting to happen.” Mike and Leah also have to raise their infant daughter Lynne, which makes him more hesitant to take on the Director position.
Mike goes to the White House for a press conference alongside Trumbull and current SSD David Gentry (Lance Reddick). Trumbull makes it clear that he plans to make war nothing but a last resort, and he wants to establish a better foreign policy.
Mike later joins Trumbull on a fishing trip with the other agents. Trumbull tells Mike personally that he is selecting him for the Director position, which Mike thankfully accepts. Moments later, the men spot what looks like a swarm of bats flying through the air. They soon realize that they are drones, which begin to fire upon the agents. Men are blown up where they stand, so Mike jumps to protect Trumbull. The two jump out of the boat and into the water to stay hidden. Mike manages to get Trumbull somewhere safe before both of them lose consciousness.
The two men are taken to the hospital, with Trumbull left in a coma. Because of this, Vice President Martin Kirby (Tim Blake Nelson) is sworn in as acting president. Leah rushes to the hospital with Lynne to see Mike. Mike is met by FBI Agent Helen Thompson (Jada Pinkett-Smith), who begins to question him on his possible involvement in the attack against Trumbull. Evidence found in the van that activated the drones suggests that Mike may have carried out the attack since his hair and skin cells, plus residue similar to that in Mike’s garage, was found. Mike believes he was set up, though Thompson seems to think that he really was responsible.
Shortly after, Mike is taken into custody. The escort team is then attacked and killed, and they take Mike with them. He ends up fighting them and causing them to crash into a tree in the woods. Mike recognizes one of the villains as Bruno, leading him to realize the men from his training exercise might be involved. Mike arms himself and starts running for it. Authorities later come across the scene to discover all the dead men. Meanwhile, it is shown that Jennings is the mastermind behind the attacks, and he deliberately set it up for Mike to take the fall by planting his DNA in the van.
Mike calls Leah from a payphone to let her know he is okay, but the call is being tracked by Thompson. Leah tells him that they have been receiving death threats. Mike has to cut the call short when two men who know he is a wanted man try to apprehend him, but Mike disarms them and flees once again by hijacking another gunman’s truck. He is spotted by authorities and is chased down the road. Mike crashes the truck into the forest and has to run again.
Kirby talks to other White House officials about the potential of the Russian government’s involvement in the assassination attempt, and what they can do to resolve the matter. He later announces via a live press conference that Mike was absolutely involved in the attack and that he was working with Russia. Kirby also adds that he is employing a private contractor to aid in a retaliatory attack against Russia.
Mike gets a van and drives to find his estranged father Clay (Nick Nolte), a former decorated Ranger who left Mike when he was young and has been supposedly off the grid ever since. Mike had managed to track him down and has known where he’s been hiding for a while. Clay has been living alone in a cabin while preparing for any potential attackers. Mike explains his situation to his father, though he is still sore about Clay abandoning him and his mother. Jennings tracks Mike to Clay’s location and sends his men after them. The Bannings spot the men on Clay’s surveillance cameras, and they head out to fight back. Clay reluctantly helps Mike and sets off explosives around the perimeter, blowing up the bad guys. Mike takes on a few of them on his own before they are all dead.
In the morning, Clay shows Mike a radio playing Kirby’s announcement. Mike contacts Jennings after realizing he is the villain. The plan all along was to start a war so Salient Global would rack up contracts and clients. Mike and Clay then drive away from the cabin. While stopping for gas, Mike hears on the radio that Trumbull is responding to stimulus, but he knows that Jennings won’t stop until Trumbull is dead. Mike also brings up Leah and Lynne to Clay, stressing what he has to lose. Afterwards, Thompson and her fellow agents come across the dead Salient agents, and as she knows what Salient has been responsible for in Iraq, she starts to suspect that Mike really is innocent.
As Jennings gets wind that Trumbull is waking up, he gets a call from his employer – Kirby. He orders Jennings to send his men to get it done.
Jennings sends his men to the Banning house to get Leah and Lynne. Just as they are being taken outside, Clay shows up to kill the two men. He explains to Leah who he is, and he expresses remorse for abandoning Mike and his mother. He says he will protect Leah and Lynne.
Thompson and her partner fly in to the Salient base to confront Jennings. Once he realizes that they know the truth, Jennings kills both of them.
Mike makes his way to the hospital where Trumbull is, just after he has woken up. He makes it upstairs but is apprehended. Trumbull orders that Mike be brought to him. Mike asserts that he is being framed, and Trumbull believes it, as he knows that he would not be alive had it not been for Mike. Soon, Mike realizes that Salient is hacking into the hospital’s computer system, releasing gas into the rooms. He knows that they are planning on blowing up the hospital. The entire building is evacuated, which Salient tech agents find out about. Jennings knows Mike got there before they did. Once Jennings and his goons arrive, a shootout occurs between Secret Service and Salient agents. Mike runs with Trumbull to get him to safety while Jennings tries to kill both of them. The hospital’s ICU is then blown up in an explosion.
Mike leaves Trumbull with Gentry as he heads off to kill the Salient agents. He shoots, stabs, and blows up nearly every last man before a military group takes out the rest of them. Jennings attempts to escape in a chopper, but Mike destroys it. The two men then face off one-on-one, which ends with Mike stabbing Jennings, leaving him to bleed out and die.
In the aftermath, Mike is exonerated, while Trumbull and Gentry learn about Kirby’s involvement with Salient, and he is arrested. Clay is then allowed to live with Mike and his family to make up for lost time.
Mike goes to meet with Trumbull to tell him that he feels he must resign since he failed to tell him about his recent medical problems, and that he doesn’t seem himself fit to protect him. Trumbull forgives Mike and says that the Secret Service Director position is still his if he wants it. Mike accepts.
During the credits, Mike and Clay decide to spend some quailty time together by going to a spa. Clay does not appear to enjoy it.