New Orleans. May 16, nighttime. A team of FBI agents, led by Special Agent George Aiken (Steve Harris) and Ray Santiago (Gonzalo Menendez), monitor a street for an international terrorist, named Miles Jackson (Aidan Gillen). Using facial recognition software, they scan different people in the street. Finally, they catch sight of him.
Aiken, playing with a small yellow toy car, rattles off Miles' crimes - murder, bombings, even the decapitation of his own brother for messing up a mission. Aiken and Santiago speak to one of Miles' confederates, Samuel, who is reluctantly cooperating with them in exchange for his brother, Joshua's, release. Meanwhile, Officer Danny Fisher (John Cena) and his girlfriend, Molly Porter (Ashley Scott), are at their recently-purchased home. Danny's on his way out and looks around for his badge, while surreptitiously sneaking his dog some noodles. After showing him where his badge is, Molly tells him to be safe. He goes out and sees his partner, Officer Hank Carver (Brian White), waiting for him in their squad car.
They drive off. Danny and Hank, being best friends, talk about Danny moving in with Molly. Hank expects Danny to pop the question soon, but Danny laughs it off. They get a message from Dispatch to help the FBI out in their operation. Hank whines about them having to jump through hoops for the Feds, while the latter seldom help them out, case in point - Katrina relief.
The Feds see Miles calls Sam on his cell phone, but can't tap the line as Miles always uses encrypted phones. Sam reports that Miles is on his way; he's bringing the weapons and they'll be making an exchange. Aiken waits eagerly. Miles arrives at the meeting place in a cab and approaches Sam. He starts to talk business with Sam, but Sam says he can't do this and exposes the FBI's plan to arrest Miles. He then shoots Miles in the stomach and has his men drag Miles to the waiting van.
He shoots out the FBI's cameras, after telling them to release his brother in exchange for Miles. Sam gets in the back with Miles and they drive off. Turns out Sam and Miles are working together and Miles was wearing Kevlar. Aiken finds out that the safehouse holding Sam's brother was attacked and two agents are dead and Joshua's escaped. Sam pays Miles for springing his brother.
However, Miles stabs Sam to death, as he would have left him out to dry if his brother was still inside. They reach the next rendezvous, where Miles' girlfriend, Erica Kessen (Taylor Cole), waits. She's already killed the van driver and passenger. He shows her the briefcase Sam gave him - it's full of diamonds. They get in a car and drive away.
Danny and Hank, on their way to help the FBI, look at Miles' record. They see surveillance images and video - including one of him dancing with Erica. At a traffic light, Danny spots Erica in her car. He tells Hank to follow her car. They pull her over and Hank goes over to check her licence and registration. She flirts a bit with Hank, who flirts right back. Danny stands behind the car and tells her to pop the trunk. Just then, Miles springs out of the trunk and starts shooting at the officers, hitting Hank in the butt.
Erica drives off. Danny checks up on Hank and then takes off on foot, in pursuit of the car. He runs through a lot of narrow alleys, through a house, on the road. He loses his gun, after an encounter with a dog. He sees Erica's car coming on the road towards him.
He pushes a parked boat into their path and causes them to crash. Picking up Miles' gun, he holds it at him. Erica tries to run, but finds herself in the way of an oncoming SUV. She gets hit hard and dies. Miles is shocked and enraged. He tells Danny he'll remember him. As backup arrives, Danny holds him at bay, while saddened at the girl's death. One year later, Danny and Hank, since promoted to detectives, blow off some steam at a pool parlor.
Hank flirts with some girls and tells Danny that, in two days, it will be one whole year since they were promoted. Danny still feels bad about Erica's death. He leaves for home. At home, he wakes up in time for Molly to leave for her job as a nurse on the night-shift at University Hospital. He finds the bathroom floor covered with water, thanks to a broken pipe. Molly sits under it, just about giving up.
She tells him that she called Phil, the plumber. Phil arrives and, seeing the mess, tells Danny that he should have got the pipe replaced two months earlier as he said he'd take care of. Danny confessed to Molly that he was trying to save money. She seems a bit upset, but he tells her to trust him.
She says she does and leaves for work. Just then, Danny gets a call on his cell phone. It's from Miles Jackson! He tells Danny that he's escaped from prison and is now back for some payback. He says that he's close. Danny grabs his badge and gun and runs outside the house, looking for Miles. Miles tells him that he killed his girlfriend, but Danny retorts that it was an accident. Suddenly, Danny's car and house (with poor Phil inside) explode, throwing Danny to the ground.
After he recovers, he hears Miles tell him that it's their "anniversary" - the day that Danny got the better of him. Now he wants a rematch. The house, the car and Phil were Round 1. He tells him that he took the one thing that can never be replaced and, in return, will do the same. He challenges Danny to try and stop him. Danny hands his dog over to some neighbors and starts running towards the ferry station, where Molly is.
Molly gets on the ferry. Miles' henchman, Anthony Deluso (Travis Davis), approaches her and asks if he can use her cell phone to call his daughter. She obliges. He keeps the phone busy, preventing Danny from getting through. Miles watches from the other side, as he gets rid of his SIM card and puts a new one into his phone.
Danny reaches the station a little too late. He tries to yell out to her, but is drowned out by the ferry. Seeing the ferry name, Thomas Jefferson (I think... ), he commandeers a car and speeds off towards the other side. On his way over the bridge, he calls Hank and tells him that Miles Jackson escaped from prison and is trying to take Molly. He needs him to call the Department of Transportation and have the ferry stopped at the station, or he might lose Molly.
Reaching the station on the other side, he sprints inside and has the security personnel shut down the station. Hank and backup arrive, but it's too late - there's no sign of Molly. He tries her cell phone. Miles answers. He has Molly tied up in the back of his car. This was Round 2. The game is 12 Rounds. If, at the end of the 12 Rounds, Danny does all that Miles says and lives, he'll let Molly go.
Round 3 - Miles will be calling a cell phone in 15 minutes. Danny has to get to the spot where he and Miles first met and, from there, find the phone. Miles hangs up and disposes of the cell phone. Danny and Hank drive to the spot where they pulled Erica over the year before.
They see some graffiti on a wall, with the day's date (05-16-08) on it, along with a latitude and longitude. They find that the place is the firehouse where Danny's brother, Dave, works. Danny calls Dave and tells him to evacuate the firehouse, as there might be a bomb inside. Dave complies and, soon, all the firemen and trucks are cleared out from the firehouse.
Danny and Hank arrive on the scene. Danny announces to all the firefighters to pull out their cell phones as Miles might call one of them. When time runs out, Danny hears a cell phone ringing. It's coming from inside a cell phone store. He runs inside and answers it. Miles congratulates him and tells him he's won extra time on the next round.
The fire alarm segues into Round 4... Round 4 - Miles says that a fire has broken out in the New Orleans Savings and Loan. Danny has to get there and extract two security deposit boxes located on the top floor, the numbers of which are in the memory of the cell phone he's holding. He has 20 minutes. Danny almost has a breakdown, but Hank keeps him from losing it. Hank has a lead on the guy who helped Miles kidnap Molly.
He'll go look into that, while Danny continues with the "game". Just then, the FBI shows up. Special Agents Aiken and Santiago approach Danny and ask him about Miles Jackson. Danny is livid that Miles broke out of prison and the Feds didn't tell him. Aiken coolly tells him to get over it and work with them, if he wants Molly back. Reluctantly, Danny hitches a ride with Aiken and Santiago, while Dave and the other firefighters head off in their firetrucks.
As they drive, the Feds tell Danny that Miles used a prison riot as cover to escape. Aiken tells him that it's unusual for Miles to show himself out in the open like this. This is a golden opportunity to get him. However, Danny only cares about Molly's safety. At the scene of the fire, Danny gets out and runs in with Dave and the others. Santiago tells Aiken that this is exactly what Miles wants and that they should stop Danny before people get hurt, however Aiken wants to use Danny as a distraction, so they can blindside Miles. Danny and Dave run through the smoke-covered corridors, looking for the security boxes. They find them, however they both have timers counting down, with less than 7 minutes remaining.
Miles calls and says that Round 5 has started. Round 5 - One of the boxes is a bomb, while the other contains a clue to the next round. He has to get to the Nicholls Street Wharf in less than 7 minutes. If he doesn't get there in time, the bomb goes off. Since time is a constraint, Miles advises him to use a firetruck.
With 6 minutes left and a long way downstairs, Danny decides to go out the window. Seeing a huge spool of cable, he tells Dave to anchor down one end, while he throws the rest of it out the window. Carrying the two boxes in a bag, he goes down the cable. Finding himself out of cable and some feet to go, he lets go and crashes through some scaffolding, much to the horror of the onlookers.
Recovering quickly, he hijacks a firetruck and races through the streets of New Orleans, causing quite a lot of damage along the way. With less than a 20 seconds to go, he reaches the edge of the wharf. Miles calls him and tells him he's too late. Danny waits with bated breath for the bomb to go off. However, a bell goes off from inside one of the boxes. Knowing it's the bomb, Danny grabs it and throws it into the water, where it explodes harmlessly. That signals the start of the next round.
Round 6 - From atop the Hotel Monteleone, Miles watches Danny standing near the firetruck as the cops and Feds approach. Danny demands to talk to Molly, but Miles promises him that he will show her to him. He tells him that the other box contains the clue. The box is handed over to the bomb squad, who saw it open and declare it clear. The Feds give Danny a new cell phone, through which they can track him and the calls. The clue in the box is a room-keycard for the Hotel Monteleone. Cops, Feds and SWAT rush into the hotel.
They raid the room and find it empty. To his anguish, Danny finds a couple of Polaroids of a gagged and bound Molly. The Feds look at the security camera footage and see Miles holding a sheet of paper up, which reads "WE ARE STILL HERE". They see him talking with a heavyset man, named Willie Dumaine (Peter Navy Tuiasosopo).
Danny goes to speak to Willie about Miles. Willie shows him where they went - they took an old elevator to the roof. Danny and Willie get on the elevator. As they ascend, a small charge fixed to the elevator motor goes off, stopping the elevator. Danny sees his cell phone has no signal there. He tries to get the elevator service phone, but finds a small laptop there instead. He opens it and sees a video of Molly tearfully reading off a sheet of paper as Miles stands nearby.
She says that, at the conclusion of the message, they have 60 seconds to get off the elevator before it freefalls to the bottom. She says the next clue is inside the lobby. The video ends and a timer starts counting down from 60 seconds. Danny climbs through a service hatch and starts to pull Willie through. It's a gigantic effort considering Willie's girth.
He manages to get Willie up onto the top of the elevator. With almost no time left, Danny tells Willie to take his hand as he climbs along the shaft wall. However, Willie's back is blown and he can't get up. The bomb on top explodes, sending the elevator and the unfortunate Willie down to the ground in freefall, as Danny watches in despair. The elevator crash is pops loose a gas line. The hotel and surrounding blocks are evacuated.
Danny walks out, despondently. His phone rings. Aiken tells him to wait as they prepare to trace the call. Aiken tells him to keep Miles on for 30 seconds. Miles, from inside a streetcar, speaks to Danny.
Danny is enraged and frustrated, but tries to stall. However, Miles figures it out and hangs up before 30 seconds, thereby cutting off the tracker. Round 7 - Miles calls again and tells him that the clue to the next round is in the hotel lobby. It's a picture of a lonely man. He'll call him in 2 minutes. Danny goes to the lobby and searches. He finds the picture and finds "CLAIBORNE & TOULOUSE" written on a Post-It on the back.
The phone rings. Santiago tells him not to answer it, but Aiken demands he do it. Danny answers the phone. Miles tells him to be there alone in 10 minutes and he "may have a 50-50 chance in having the time of [his] life".
As Danny leaves, Aiken admonishes Santiago. At Claiborne and Toulouse, Danny waits anxiously. He sees a bus pull up - Bus number 5050. Realizing that's what Miles meant, he gets on. To his bemusement, he finds Molly on board, shaken and scared. He sees she's wearing a bomb underneath her jacket. Sitting nearby is Miles, who tells them to sit.
He goes over to Danny and pulls out the wire he's wearing. However, the Feds hear his voice and realize he's on the bus. Aiken orders a strike team to prepare an assault. In the bus, Miles handcuffs Danny to a bar.
He shows Danny his PDA, on which he's pressing his thumb. If his thumb goes off the screen, 10 seconds later, a small charge sends a nail into Molly's heart, killing her, and 30 seconds later, the bomb explodes. He gives Danny an envelope, with a phone number on it, as the clue to the next round. Aiken orders a couple of snipers to take position on the overpass, under which the bus will go soon. One will shoot a hole in the window, while the other one will kill Miles. Aiken doesn't care who gets killed, as long as Miles is one of them.
As they approach the overpass, Danny notices the snipers and pulls Miles and Molly down to the floor of the bus, just as they open fire. He gets grazed in the shoulder, as the snipers unload on the bus. The bus grinds to a halt and everyone runs outside. Miles ushers Molly out of the bus and blends with the others. Danny, handcuffed and wounded, is helpless to stop them. By the time, the Feds get to the bus, Miles is in the wind. When Danny is freed, he comes out and punches Aiken in the face. He tells them that if Miles had died, everyone on the bus would have been blown up.
Hank shows up, while Danny gets his wound treated. Danny is upset that he was so close to Molly and couldn't help her. Hank consoles him, telling him that he has located the man who helped Miles - Anthony Deluso. He has his location and they will go find him.
Danny tells him to be careful as he leaves. Round 8 - Santiago approaches Danny and offers his help. Danny calls the number on the envelope. Miles tells him that there are 5 numbers inside the envelope. Four of them are for cell phones wired to bombs in different city locations. Only one will disarm all 4 of them. If he dials wrong, the bomb attached to the receiving phone will explode.
If he doesn't dial within 1 minute, all 4 will explode. Realizing that the numbers are codes, Danny and Santiago start inputting the numbers as text messages. With no time left, Danny dials one randomly. Miles answers and tells him he got it wrong. Round 9 - He tells them that Streetcar 907's brakes have been disabled and the radio is out. Danny's task is to stop the streetcar before it causes a lot of damage. Danny and Santiago drive off. Santiago tries to call the DoT about it, but is put on hold.
Danny says that the best way to stop it would be to shut down its power. Meanwhile, Hank and his team prepare to raid Deluso's apartment. However Deluso gets wind of it and bails. Hank and another cop follow Deluso through the streets on foot. In Streetcar 907, the driver realizes the brakes are shot and the radio is out. He tries to stop the car but it won't.
Danny swerves his car in front of the streetcar, trying to slow it down. He tries to climb on top of it and take out the power from the roof, but to no avail. He gets back in the car and drives towards a nearby power transformer. He and Santiago jump out just in time as the car slams into the power transformer, shutting off electricity for the whole neighborhood. The streetcar, now powerless, slows down, but not by much. Danny and Santiago run along it, clearing people out of the way, until it grinds to a halt. Round 10 & 11 - Miles calls Danny.
Danny jokes that it's getting too easy. Miles tells Danny that Round 10 was him and Hank taking Deluso. So Round 11 is where he takes his best friend, Hank. Fearing the worst, Danny tries calling Hank, but it keeps going to voice-mail. In a welding factory, Hank walks carefully, gun at the ready, looking for Deluso. He finds himself at gunpoint. Deluso taunts him, telling him that Miles always plans for stuff like this.
Suddenly, an anti-personnel mine activates. Hank taunts him back, saying that he doesn't feature in Miles' plans. The mine explodes, killing Hank and Deluso. Danny gets word from Aiken that the welding factory blew up and Hank was seen entering it. It's a good bet that he didn't make it. Danny is heartbroken. Aiken goes up to him and tells him that, some time ago, Miles stole 3 Stingers from the military. They were tracked to Pakistan, but Aiken lost Miles on the day of the deal.
A few days later, one of the stolen Stingers shot down a plane over Islamabad. He shows Danny the yellow toy car he carries around with him. It was the only thing that was intact in the wreckage. He had forgotten that it isn't about Miles, but about the people he's hurt and those he's going to hurt.
Aiken volunteers to help Danny find Molly. Round 12 - Miles calls Danny. He tells him that, in a few minutes, it will be exactly one year since Erica's death. All Danny has to do is find Molly. She has a bomb strapped to her chest and only Danny's fingerprint on the touchphone, wired to it, can disarm it. He tells Danny to pay a visit to Erica, so he can say he's sorry.
He hangs up. They realize he means Erica's tombstone. Danny, Santiago and Aiken get into a car and start for the cemetery. Danny's phone rings. It's Chuck Jansen, another detective. He tells Danny that something was not making sense. All the numbers in the envelope were of cell phones rigged to the streetcar. Miles also had a camera in the elevator shaft, where Willie died.
He had blown the bomb early. Danny realizes that Willie was meant to die. He asks Aiken what he's missing. Aiken realizes its about money.
He tells Santiago to get all the info about Willie Dumaine. Santiago finds that Willie had a second job as a security guard. They think back to the hotel incident. The gas line had come loose, so they evacuated a few city blocks around it. One of those buildings was the Department of Engraving and Printing - the Mint. Meanwhile, Miles, dressed as a security guard, uses Willie's card to gain entrance to the Mint.
He uses a false name to sign in. He follows another security guard as they're led to the safe. The money there is over one hundred million dollars. Having killed all the other guards, Miles dumps the money down into the sewer. Aiken tells Santiago to lock down the Mint, while he and Danny go after Molly.
As they drive, Danny wonders how Miles will get the money out of the place. Aiken tells him only emergency vehicles can get through. Danny suddenly thinks back to when he hijacked the firetruck. He turns the car around and heads for the Mint. Miles emerges from the sewer, near the Hotel Monteleone, where the firetruck (which Danny hijacked) is parked. He uses the hose to siphon out the water and money into the truck. Danny tells Aiken that Molly's not at the cemetery. She's a nurse and Miles' ticket out.
Aiken calls the hospital security. At the hospital, Miles uses an explosion as a diversion and heads into the hospital. Inside, he forces Molly to help him wheel the soaking wet money (inside a bodybag) up to the top of the hospital, to the helipad. He kills two hospital guards in the process.
They head for the Medevac chopper. He tells her to take them up. Danny and Aiken race into the hospital. Molly tries to stall, giving them time to reach the chopper. Miles shoots at them, wounding Aiken.
Danny leaps and grabs onto the chopper. He and Miles fight inside the chopper, with Molly using the chopper to help Danny out. However, the engine gets hit by gunfire and the chopper starts to lose control. Miles activates the touchphone-bomb. Danny, though wounded, punches Miles' lights out, before he and Molly jump out of the chopper into a terrace pool, just as time runs out.
Miles gets blown to bits inside the helicopter. Aiken, happily, throws his yellow toy car away. Danny and Molly slowly and painfully trudge downstairs, while Danny starts to tell Molly about the house while credits roll~.