After his next break-in, expert thief Neil McCauley plans to retire from his outlaw life and move to New Zealand. However, Vincent Hanna, a Los Angeles police detective, obsessively tracks McCauley's gang of thieves, who have left three security guards dead in an armored truck robbery. As the detective gets closer to tracking them down, the crooks plan another big heist, this time at a bank. Hanna soon gets a lead that helps him determine the identity of the criminal mastermind who engineered the thefts and discovers McCauley is a man as driven and relentless as the detective himself. Although he doesn't have enough evidence against the thief to make an arrest, Hanna convinces McCauley to join him for coffee, at which point the two engage in casual conversation and discover that their lives are remarkably similar. However, each man makes it clear he will kill the other if necessary. Though they know the police are closing in on them, McCauley and his men risk going through with the bank job. A violent shootout and car chase result, but the criminals escape. Hanna continues to pursue them unceasingly, at the expense of his already-crumbling marriage. Eventually Hanna and McCauley face each other for the last time in a thrilling showdown at the Los Angeles airport.