After the disastrous defeat of Irish rebels by superior British forces during the Easter Week rebellion of 1916, Michael Collins develops new strategies for the independence of Ireland. His tactics include what is now recognized as urban guerrilla tactics and organized assassinations of those Irish who work as informers for the British and later members of British intelligence. Although Collins is conflicted about the necessity of this violent course, by 1921 the British are willing to negotiate. Sinn Fein President Eamon de Valera sends a reluctant Collins to London to negotiate a settlement. When Collins returns with a compromise of a divided Ireland and an Irish Free State, not a Republic, he is vilified by de Valera and repudiated by lifelong friend Harry Boland after Boland learns that his girlfriend Kitty Kiernan is in love with Collins. Collins is now faced with civil war as he struggles against those who insist on complete and unconditional freedom for all of Ireland.