Jack Cates(Nick Nolte) is a cop who doesn't exactly play by the rules and is not a team player. He works alone. When he runs into two cops who are going to arrest someone for a misdemeanor, he joins them. When they knock on the door, they're shot at. Eventually Jack comes face to face with them and when one of them has his gun trained on the other cop, the other guy tells Jack to give up his gun which he does. He then shoots the cop and tries to shoot Jack but misses. Later part of the department thinks Jack was a coward for giving up his gun and the others think that Jack's wild ways got the cops who was with him killed. Jack learns that the guy who told him to give up his gun is an escaped convict and the other guy was the one who busted him out. Jack also learns he's been killing his former associates. Jack learns that another associate, Reggie Hammond(Eddie Murphy) is in prison. Jack goes to see Hammond; initially Hammond doesn't want to help until he learns of the man's escape but insists that Jack has to get him out to help with him. Jack does and Hammond takes Jack all over town hoping to find the guy but Jack suspects Hammond is holding back.