An American expat tries to sell off his highly profitable marijuana empire in London, triggering plots, schemes, bribery and blackmail in an attempt to steal his domain out from under him.
Mickey Pearson is an American marijuana kingpin who has made a huge business in the UK, but when word gets out that he is planning to retire, another American businessman, Matthew Berger, wants in on it, as does gangster Dry Eye and his heroin-pushing cronies. Mickey’s dealings are documented by a sleazy journalist named Fletcher, who tells everything to Mickey’s henchman Raymond. Fletcher was ordered by his boss, Big Dave, to get dirt on Mickey after Mickey disrespected him at an event.
It turns out Berger and Dry Eye were in cahoots all along, trying to sabotage Mickey’s business to lower the price. Dry Eye kills his own boss and attempts to go after Mickey’s wife Rosalind, but Mickey gets to him first and kills Dry Eye. He later gets Berger to give him more money, while Raymond has his friend Coach and his boys blackmail Dave after drugging him and making him have sex with a pig.
Fletcher attempts to sell his story as a screenplay, but Raymond catches him and drives away with him, leaving Mickey and Ros to continue their business in freedom.
Big Dave, editor of the Daily Print tabloid, is snubbed by cannabis baron Mickey Pearson at a party and hires private investigator Fletcher, to investigate Pearson’s links to Lord Pressfield, a Royal Duke with a heroin-addicted daughter. Fletcher offers to sell his findings (typed up as a screenplay entitled Bush) to Pearson’s right-hand man, Raymond, for £20,000,000.
Born in poverty in the United States, Pearson won a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University, where he began selling marijuana to fellow students before dropping out and building up his criminal enterprise by violence. He plans to sell his business to American billionaire Matthew Berger for $400,000,000 so he can retire peacefully with his wife, Rosalind. Pearson shows Berger one of the labs where he grows his cannabis under the estates of aristocratic landlords, who need cash for the upkeep of their stately homes. Pearson is later approached by Dry Eye, an underboss for Chinese gangster Lord George. Dry Eye offers to buy out Pearson’s business, but he refuses. Pearson’s lab is then raided by amateur MMA fighters and aspiring YouTubers “The Toddlers” who overpower the lab’s guards, steal a van-load of marijuana and upload a rap video of their caper online. The fighters’ trainer, known only as Coach, orders them to delete the video and is horrified when he discovers that the cannabis belongs to Pearson.
Pearson begins transferring his cannabis plants out of the estates. He also agrees to bring home Pressfield’s wayward daughter Laura. Raymond retrieves Laura from a council estate where she is living with several other addicts. However, in a brawl with her flatmates one of Raymond’s men accidentally pushes Aslan, a young Russian man, out of the window to his death. Although Laura was then returned to her parents, she later dies of a heroin overdose. Coach visits Raymond, apologises for his students’ actions, and offers his services as penance. Coach has captured Phuc, a henchman of Dry Eye’s who had informed Coach’s crew about the lab location, although Phuc is accidentally killed during a botched escape attempt when he jumps off a balcony but lands into the path of an oncoming train. Pearson threatens Lord George for going after his lab, and destroys one of his heroin labs in retaliation. George chastises Dry Eye for his insubordination in attacking Pearson and offering to buy him out; George nods to a henchman to execute Dry Eye, but the man executes George instead.
Unknown to Pearson, Dry Eye is in league with Berger, who had wanted Pearson’s business disrupted to reduce the price. Dry Eye has taken Lord George’s place and still hopes to take Pearson’s empire for himself. Dry Eye tries to kidnap Rosalind, who kills Dry Eye’s men before she runs out of bullets in her two-shot derringer. Raymond kills an assassin sent to kill Pearson; the two rush to Rosalind and Pearson kills Dry Eye as he is about to rape her. Fletcher ends his story and Raymond orders him to leave his house.
Fletcher has merely confirmed Pearson’s suspicions about the link between Dry Eye and Berger. Raymond orders Coach’s students to capture Big Dave. They drug him and film him having sex with a pig, threatening to post it online unless he drops his investigation. Pearson and Berger meet up again in a frozen fish plant, actually a cover for Pearson’s European distribution operation. Berger drops his offer to $130,000,000, on account of the recent disruptions it has experienced, but Pearson reveals his knowledge of Berger’s plan, shows him Dry Eye’s frozen body and tells him he is keeping his business. Pearson forces Berger inside a refrigerator, where he will freeze to death unless he transfers $270,000,000 compensation and, for the assault on Rosalind, cuts “a pound of flesh” from his own body.
Fletcher approaches Raymond again for his payment, but Raymond reveals that he was tailing Fletcher all along. The fighters have stolen his stashes of evidence after Raymond placed a tracker on him during their last encounter. Fletcher reveals that he has also sold info to Aslan’s father, a Russian oligarch and former KGB agent. The assassin that Raymond earlier killed was one of the Russians. Coach kills two Russian hitmen sent to kill Raymond, while Fletcher escapes in the chaos. Pearson is kidnapped by two other Russians, but they are quickly ambushed by Coach’s students who want to “solve Coach’s problem”. They assault the car with bullets, killing the Russians and allowing Pearson to escape. Later, Fletcher decides to pitch the story as a film to Miramax. After his meeting, he gets into a cab only to realise that Raymond is the driver. Upon learning of Fletcher’s capture, Pearson and Rosalind return to their cannabis empire and celebrate in each other’s company.
The film starts with Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey) walking into a pub. As he sits down to have a pint, he talks to his wife on the phone. He overhears someone on the other line antagonizing her, while another man walks behind Mickey. A gunshot rings out and blood sprays the pint.
Inside the home of Mickey’s number two man, Raymond (Charlie Hunnam), he is met by Fletcher (Hugh Grant), a smug tabloid journalist who is there on behalf of his boss, Big Dave (Eddie Marsan), editor of the Daily Print. Dave wants to write a piece on Mickey after a recent encounter where Mickey denied his handshake due to Dave having printed a story about an associate of Mickey’s who had a gay affair with his butler. Dave offers Fletcher 150,000 pounds to gather dirt on Mickey, but Fletcher wants Raymond to give him 20 million for his intel, which he has also turned into a screenplay.
Fletcher walks Raymond (and the audience) through everything he knows about Mickey and everyone involved with him. Mickey came from a poor American family and went to Oxford University where he grew and sold his own marijuana to his fellow students, even earning a reputation for violently retaliating against anyone who crosses him. Recently, Mickey has been doing dealings with another American businessman, Matthew Berger (Jeremy Strong). Word is that Mickey is planning to leave the business to Berger for $400 million so that he can retire with his wife Rosalind (Michelle Dockery). Ros herself thinks Mickey should watch out for Berger, calling him a fox.
Catching wind of Mickey’s potential retirement is gangster Dry Eye (Henry Golding), who works for heroin kingpin Lord George (Tom Wu). Dry Eye composes his business like a gentleman but is no less psychotic than the people he works for. He manages to get a meeting with Mickey to buy out his business, but Mickey refuses. Dry Eye responds with an insult, leading to Mickey shooting Dry Eye in the balls before killing his henchman and then him. However, this was just Fletcher having some fun with his story. In reality, Mickey just flat out refused and made it clear to Dry Eye that he is not the least bit intimidated.
Mickey shows Berger one of his weed farms, owning many on the land of a lord that he does business with. The farm is later hit by a group of wannabe rappers/boxers, The Toddlers, who fight Mickey’s guards and record a video of it, which Raymond shows to Mickey. The boys alert their boss, Coach (Colin Farrell), who is introduced fighting off a group of punk kids in a restaurant. He orders them to take the video down.
At this point in Fletcher’s story, Big Dave has ordered him to get dirt on Mickey’s dealings with Lord Pressfield (Samuel West), whose daughter Laura (Eliot Sumner) is a known heroin addict. Pressfield and his wife ask Mickey for help in finding Laura after she goes missing. Raymond and a few other goons track her down to the home of a bunch of junkies to get her back. The junkies fight Raymond’s thugs, leading to one of them, a young Russian man named Aslan (Danny Griffin), getting pushed off a balcony where he falls to his death. A separate group of punks record Aslan’s corpse before Ray and his men pursue them. Raymond catches one of the boys and attempts to buy the phone off him, but when he and his friends try to get tough, Ray pulls out a gun to scare them away and make them give up the phone. The thugs bring Laura back home to her family, but she later dies outside on the lawn due to an overdose. Raymond also stashes Aslan’s body in a freezer.
Coach learns that the farm his boys knocked off was Mickey’s farm, which pisses him off for their recklessness. He goes to visit Raymond to apologize and offer his services to him. He shows Raymond that they captured one of Lord George’s men, Phuc (Jason Wong), who gave Coach’s guys the info on the farm site. Phuc tries to make a run for it, only to fall onto train tracks and get himself run over.
Mickey visits Lord George in his restaurant and poisons his tea, causing him to violently throw up, as retaliation for going after his business. He also destroys one of George’s heroin labs. George confronts Dry Eye and insults him for trying to go after Mickey the way he did. With his back turned, Dry Eye has one of his men kill Lord George, and Dry Eye pisses on his corpse.
Fletcher then presents Raymond with new information: Dry Eye has been working with Berger, and it was their plan all along to storm Mickey’s farm to bring down the price of his business. Fletcher shows Raymond a recording of the two of them speaking in Cantonese at a game, where Berger asserts that his men have more control than Dry Eye does.
At this point, we are back in the pub where the film opened. Mickey talks to Ros and hears Dry Eye entering to talk to her. The hitman sent to kill Mickey is shot by Raymond before he can kill Mickey. They then head off to find Ros, who deals with Dry Eye and his goons by pulling out a tiny gun that Berger gave Mickey as a paperweight, but is still very much effective. After she shoots Dry Eye’s goons, Dry Eye attempts to rape Ros. Mickey has just gotten into a car accident trying to reach her, but he still manages to run to her office and shoot Dry Eye dead before he can hurt Ros.
Fletcher finishes his story and tells Raymond everything Berger had planned alongside Dry Eye in order to get Mickey’s business. Raymond responds by having Coach and his boys kidnap Big Dave, drug him, and blackmail him with a video they shot of him having sex with a pig.
Mickey meets with Berger for one last negotiation. After Berger brings his offer down, Mickey reveals he knows all about Berger’s plotting, and so he forces him to go inside a freezer until he transfers a substantial amount of money to Mickey, as well as cutting a “pound of flesh” for Dry Eye’s attack on Ros.
Fletcher goes back to Raymond’s house for payment. Raymond reveals that he knows Fletcher has been following Mickey for weeks, but Raymond was sneaking behind Fletcher as well. He gathered his evidence after tracking him andhas done away with it. Fletcher then hits back that he has given up info to Aslan’s father, a Russian KGB oligarch. His goons are going after Mickey. Raymond tries to warn Mickey, but he was already picked up by the Russians. Coach kills two hitmen sent to Raymond’s house, and the Toddlers kill the thugs who got Mickey, letting him get out.
Fletcher later pitches his story to Miramax. He gets picked up by Raymond, to his horror. Raymond informs Mickey about this, who in turn informs Ros, and the two have sex to celebrate their freedom.