NOTE: This spoiler was submitted by Spectre
We open up in a NYC subway. A young scared girl, Mei (Catherine Chan), is looking around in the subway scared and fearful of those around her. She sees a man, Luke Wright (Jason Statham), though is freaked out by him too.
1 HOUR AGO
Mei is accosted in an office by a Russian crime lord. The man, Emile Docheski (Sandor Tecsy), demands to know what Mei knows but Mei plays dumb. Emile tells her he knows she is lying and threatens her with violence if she refuses.
1 YEAR AGO
Mei lived in China, and was a normal adolescent, with the exception of one key thing. She is exceptionally good at math. We see that when she corrects her math teacher on his incorrect calculations. Mei is sent to the principal and told she will be transferred to a new school. Mei doesn’t want to leave her friends, but as they walk down the streets, her friends mention they will write to her every week. Suddenly, a car rushes up and men grab Mei.
New Jersey during the same time Mei is kidnapped: Luke gets into a fight cage and faces his opponent. It cuts immediately to the hospital. Luke apparently put the fighter in a coma with one punch. He tries to apologize to the family, but they will have none of it.
Luke goes into the casino and berates the promoter for picking such a bad fighter. The guy tells Luke that he was actually supposed to throw the match but he damn near killed the guy. The promoter lost over a million dollars on that fight and he also lost the money of Emile Docheski, which makes the promoter a target unless he gives them Luke. Luke beats up the promoter’s men then heads home.
Luke calls his wife and gets voicemail. He tells her not to go home.
Mei is brought into a gambling den when Han Jiao (James Hong) explains he has heard that she is good with numbers and wants her to help with his business since she knows and memorizes numbers so well. In return, they will look over her sick mother’s health care. Mei doesn’t really have a choice anyway.
Luke arrives home and finds Russian men in his apartment. Off screen they have dismembered his pregnant wife Annie. The boss’ son Vassily (Joseph Sikora) thinks Luke will hurt them, but Luke just kneels on the floor waiting for them to kill him. However, Vassily says that they plan to make the ultimate example of him since he inadvertently lost them so much money. They have looked into his past and found he used to be a garbage collector but has little of a past. Vassily explains they will not kill him but they will leave him with a shell of a life. They will have men watching him and anyone he gets close to all, they will kill. The only way for him to escape them will be suicide. Vassily and his men leave, telling Luke has till tomorrow to leave his apartment or they will kill the landlady. They tell him to clean up their mess, “garbage man,” meaning his dead wife.
Mei is brought to NYC by Quan Chang (Reggie Lee), Han Jiao’s trusted lieutenant. He gets forged documents from Capt. Wolf (Robert John Burke) who says he wants something in exchange. He wants his take in the Chinese business upped 20%. Quan gives him 10% and the guarantee that the Chinese won’t start targeting cops and their families.
We now return to the present day. Mei is running numbers with Quan. When she mentions a casino, she is forced to admit that it is losing money. Quan, with his men and Mei, pay the place a visit. Quan beats the manager half to death then shoots him in the head, saying they will have a new boss starting tonight and if their numbers don’t pick up, the new boss will not be the only one that pays.
Mei is at a restaurant with Quan and his men. Mei asks why they hurt the man, if they were going to kill him anyway. Quan says she does not understand business and tells her to eat.
Luke goes to a homeless shelter for the night, since he is still being watched. There is a man who compliments his shoes and Luke threatens him about trying to steal them. The man denies it and takes off his shoes, showing they are badly worn out (Luke says he has gangrene and needs to get his feet checked). Luke gives him the shoes and the man thanks him.
Mei is sleeping when a woman that works with Quan wakes her up. The woman explains that Mei’s mother died. Quan and Han Jiao intended to keep it from her to keep her working for them. The woman says she told her so Mei could pray for her mother in heaven.
Luke wakes up in the shelter. He looks at the man he gave the shoes to. His throat has been slit. The Russians were following him and killed a man just because Luke took pity on him. Security accosts Luke about the dead man and finds liquor on Luke which is not allowed to have. Security bans Luke from the shelter for that and because of the dead man.
Mei is told by Han Jiao to memorize a number for him. She remembers it instantaneously. Han Jiao doesn’t believe it but Quan vouches for her ability.
Luke is accosted by a man on the street. When he tries to buy something he realizes he was pick pocketed by the man. Luke laughs. A cop is in the store and throws him out. Taking a good look, the cop recognizes Luke. He brings him over to his partner and they stuff him into a squad car.
Mei is traveling with Quan and a convoy to get the second number when their car is rammed. It is the Russian mob that slaughters the Triads and kidnap Mei.
Luke is taken to an abandoned quarry and is beaten by the cops and others. It turns out all of them used to work with Luke. However, Luke figured out they were corrupt and reported them to IA which killed their careers. The lead man said when he heard about Vassily’s punishment he laughed. Sure he felt bad for Luke’s wife Annie, but Luke was such an asshole that he kind of deserved it. The squad is betting on how he will off himself. They goad him to take a gun so they can kill him via suicide by cop. Luke refuses and reminds them that his “talent” is making people lose money so he will not give them the satisfaction. Luke walks off.
Mei is taken to Emile who wants what Mei knows. Mei is unwilling. Mei is told that a traitor told them anything. The traitor is revealed to be the woman that told Mei her mother had died. The woman tells Mei that she is being paid a lot and that Mei should just tell them. Mei calls her stupid as she has gave up her entire leverage which is bad business. Now the Russians will just kill her. Mei refuses to say anything and the Russians prove her right and kill the woman when she can’t get Mei to talk. Police show up complaining of a disturbance. Mei slips away in the confusion.
Capt. Wolf ferries calls between the Triads and the Russians trying to get a better deals on his takes when he realizes Mei's value. Now she has the Chinese, the Russians, and corrupt NYC cops after her.
We now return to the beginning of the movie. Luke is inching towards the train tracks about to kill himself, apologizing to his wife. He sees Mei and sees how scared she is. He sees Russians come in and see Mei hide from them. He realizes she is in trouble. He recognizes one of the men, Chemyakin (Igor Jijikine), as the man who actually murdered his wife on Vassily’s orders. The train doors open and Mei and the Russians get on. The doors close and Luke has to grab the end of the train. He then has to get on top of the train and hop down between the doors to finally enter. The Russians are going car to car looking for Mei and she keeps going between the cars until she hits the last car. Luke follows them.
Chemyakin sees her and goes for her. Luke comes up behind them and starts beating up all the Russians. Chemyakin pulls a gun, but Luke disarms him and breaks his arm. Chemyakin recognizes him and is startled that Luke is doing anything after all this time. Luke smirks and tells him they got their information wrong. He wasn’t a garbage man (well not that type of garbage man). He shoots Chemyakin in the head, getting some justice for Annie. The travelers are horrified but Luke tells them not to lose any sleep because “he had it coming.”
Luke asks Mei is she is okay but she runs, thinking he is after her too. Luke pursues her.
Outside the subway, Mei is found by two cops that work in Luke’s former squad. He beats them up and steals their car as Russians find them. Luke takes them on a car chase down the wrong way of the street, causing one of the cars to crash. They go down an abandoned alley and set a trap. When the other Russians show up, Mei hides while Luke shoots up the car, and kills all the Russians. Luke takes Mei with him, trying to figure out the mess they are in.
Capt. Wolf is told that Luke Wright took the girl. He knows of Luke too and is worried. Capt. Wolf says they need to find them. Wolf is told that the Mayor requests an audience with him at his home.
Using a dead Russians’ credit cards, Luke buys new clothes and checks them into a nice hotel.
Quan is in a car with backup, having been ordered to find Mei or else. One of his men tracks them down to the hotel.
When Luke presses for information, Mei reveals that she was made to memorize a long number but she realizes it was off. Some numbers repeat. Luke realizes it is a code, like for a safe. Mei says she was supposed to get a second set of numbers, and then she knew Han Jiao would kill her (so she couldn’t reveal anything).
Quan enters the hotel with his men and tries to play the part of concerned father with the lobby hostess. When she is unwilling to give up Luke’s room number but is willing to call the cops, Quan pulls a gun on her and tells her to tell him the room number. Security sees this and pulls guns on Quan, starting a shootout. The security kill two men but get killed themselves. The woman gives Quan the room number.
Luke hears the gunfire and they realize that Mei was being tracked by her cell phone. They have to leave now. Luke tells her if they get separated and Han Jiao finds her again that she should lie about telling him anything.
The NYPD show up and Quan’s men fire on the cops, killing a few. They lock the hotel down, not allowing anyone to leave.
Luke and Mei are forced into a hotel restaurant where Luke shoots a few Triads and beats up a few more. In the confusion, Mei is retaken by Quan. Luke is forced to grab a man and throw him out the window using the man as a shield. Quan makes the hotel guests run out of the lobby as cover and shoots a man when they don’t run fast enough. Quan gets away in the confusion with Mei but they are spotted by cops, who fire on his entourage. Quan loses several more men but he gets away with Mei.
Luke is running from cops who see him and he has to steal a car to get away. He goes down a few blocks and parks it. He then grabs a cab. Thinking about what to do next, he looks up the dead Russian’s phone and sees Vassily’s number. He calls him up and impersonates Piotor, the dead man, claiming that Mei gave him the number and he needs to come in now since he has the cops on him. Vassily gives him the address of the restaurant he is in. Luke makes the cabbie stop so he can pick up a Russian hooker for his cover at the restaurant.
Capt. Wolf goes to see Mayor Tremello (Chris Sarandon) and find out more of the situation. Tremello fills in Wolf about Luke Wright. He was placed with Wolf’s unit to be a “ghost” i.e. killing crime scum off the books. Despite his job, Luke was a moral straight shooter so when he learned of Wolf and his officer’s skimming and otherwise corruption, he told IA. Tremello doesn’t know why Luke ducked out of his cop life or why he is involved now, but all he knows is that he is not to be trifled with. The mayor’s aide Alex Rosen (Anson Mount) tells the mayor about the hotel shooting, saying he will have to make a statement.
Mei is brought back to Han Jiao and lies about telling Luke or the Russians anything. Han Jiao doesn’t believe her and tells Quan to call their men in China to kill Mei’s mother since she was disloyal. Mei already knows her mother is dead but has to play along, swearing on her mother she said nothing. Han Jiao is convinced. Quan calls a man saying the information might be compromised and they have to move up their timetable. The man is Alex, the mayor’s aide. Alex says that is unacceptable.
Luke and the hooker arrive at the restaurant and after surveying where Vassily and his goons are says they will have a drink at the bar. He tells the hooker to give him a peck on the cheek and pretend she forgot something and go outside but don’t come back, as he no longer requires her services. After paying her well, she leaves.
Luke goes to the bar and orders a drink as he stands near one of Vassily’s thugs. “I never know what to say in these moments,” Luke mentions in Russia. “What moments?” The goon responds. “The moments before I kill someone,” Luke says. He picks up a nearby fork and jams it into the guy’s throat. He then charges Vassily’s table with a gun, killing all his security. Luke looks Vassily dead in the eyes, with Vassily going white. Luke threatens the kitchen staff to the location to Vassily’s car and they leave.
Luke calls Emile and tells him that he has his son hostage and wants some information. Emile will not budge and tells Luke to kill his son. Luke scoffs saying he wasn’t going to kill him, he was going to treat him like a pet that he treats badly. “I’m going to do things to him that will make me ashamed to look in the mirror afterward,” Luke says. Luke wants to know what is in the safe that everyone is concerned about. Emile finally cracks and tells him it contains 30 million, and a second safe holds something even more valuable.
Luke takes Vassily and duct tapes him. Vassily says he knows Luke could have killed them that day but he didn’t, and he doesn’t understand why. Luke doesn’t dignify him with a response. Luke says Vassily better pray nothing happens to Mei. He slams the trunk closed.
Luke meets up with Wolf and his former squad outside a Triad owned dance club/casino. He tells them of the safe and how they can split it 6 ways, and become newspaper heroes in the process. The cops are willing despite their hatred of Luke.
Storming the place with guns, the six kill numerous Triad guards (we’re talking dozens) in order to get to the safe. One of the cops is shot in the head by a Triad and another is wounded trying to open a locked door. Seeing he will slow them down, Wolf kills him.
Luke and the three surviving cops get down to the safe and blow the outer doors with C4 then kill the guards inside. Luke goes to open the safe but will only do it if the others drop their guns to the floor so they don’t immediately shoot him when he opens it. He spins the lock but it doesn’t open. The cops are pissed but he says he had the order mixed up. Suddenly, Luke grabs his gun up again and kills two of the cops and wounds Wolf leaving him alive but hurt. Luke makes Wolf open the safe and fill the bags with cash. They leave the club and Luke then stuffs Wolf in the trunk of the car with Vassily.
Luke calls Tremello and says he has his money. Luke wants to know what the second safe has. Tremello reveals post 9/11, the government collected information about criminal organizations and their money trails. This was allowed in the political scare period after the terrorist attack.
Tremello is at his mansion when he gets a call from Alex. He goes upstairs only to find out Luke has broken into the house. Luke wants the disc and wants to be shown that it is the true thing. After confirming it, he knocks Tremello out.
Alex is called by Luke and says he has the money and the disc of information. Luke says he figured it out. Alex is trading the money for the disc. The Triads will use it to blackmail their enemies and governments and Alex and Tremello will get to retire somewhere warm (they’re lovers). Alex says that was the plan. Luke says he has to deal with him now. Luke instructs him to go to the handoff as scheduled.
Quan talks to Mei on the way to the handoff. He apologizes for pointing a gun at her earlier when he thought the Russians were going to get her. He says when it is all over he will try to be a better father to her and take care of her better. Mei pretends to be convinced.
At the meeting, Quan explains Mei will give him the code, and Alex will give them the location of his safe, then he will be directed on how the code works. Alex gets out a pen to pretend to write it down, then stabs one guy with it, then fights the rest of the Triads. He kills them all and then gets Quan in a headlock. “You might wanna close your eyes,” Alex says to Mei. She doesn’t. “Your call,” Alex says as he violently snaps Quan’s neck.
Alex calls Luke. Luke says to meet him.
At the meeting at an abandoned quarry they talk about the bodies they had dumped in the quarry they are at (Alex was apparently a former squad member too). Alex has a gun to Mei. He wants the disc, and Luke says it is in the car. Alex almost kills Mei immediately, when Luke reveals he wasn’t stupid enough to bring it with him. If he wants it, he’ll have to fight him. Alex and Luke put their guns down and get ready to fight, when shots ring out. It is Mei, who hits Alex in the leg. When he is down, Luke grabs his gun back and shoots Alex multiple times in the chest. Mei explains she saw Alex fight and it would be “bad business” if he fought Alex. Luke says Mei saved him again. “We save each other,” Mei replies.
Later, Luke unties Wolf and gives him $50,000 for his trouble. At least he will be alive to spend this amount. He tells Wolf to return Vassily back to his father alive. Wolf is astonished that Luke would let him live after what they did to his wife. “For her sake,” Luke says, pointing to Mei. Luke tells Vassily that his “debt” is paid and if he EVER sees him again things will be different (translation: next time, I will kill you).
Luke and Mei return the 30 million to Han Jiao minus the $50,000 they paid Wolf. In a letter Mei says they will pay that back with interest eventually. She tells Han Jiao not to look for them, and if he does, she knows everything about all his operations. If he comes after them, it will be the end of him. Han Jiao crumbles the paper in anger and tells him men to book him a flight back to China. He never wants to come back to NYC.
Luke is leaving a bank then gets back in a car with Mei. He tells Mei he set up copies of the discs in five banks in safe deposit boxes. If anything happens to them, some people are going to be very sorry.
Luke mentions that he is still a mess and he is no condition to be a father to her. Mei says that she has had enough fathers (her birth father skipped out on her mom, and Quan was using her). She asks if Luke will be her friend. “To my dying day,” Luke replies. Luke says he found a school for the gifted in Seattle that he can set her up at. They are going to travel out of the city to there so they both can start a new life.
“Are we safe?” Mei asks. “One day at a time,” Luke says. They drive off.