Violent crime is all but eliminated in the city of Edison, Vancouver, thanks to the First Response Assault Team, a squad of elite, corrupt undercover cops.
Rookie officer Raf Deed (LL Cool J) witnesses his partner, Lazerov (Dylan McDermott), kill a crackhead in cold blood. Lazerov confiscates the drugs and money, and frames the victim's friend for the murder. How will Deed keep his conscience in check, knowing this isn't the first time he'll be an accomplice to corruption?
Meanwhile, rookie reporter Josh Pollack (Justin Timberlake) discovers an inconsistency in Deed's testimony at the murder trial. His editor (Morgan Freeman) encourages him to expose the truth. But the closer he gets, the more viciously Lazerov and FRAT try to throw him off the trail. Can Pollack summon the courage he needs to finish the job, even if it means risking his life and the lives of those he loves?
Pollack and Deed, together with special investigator Levon Wallace (Kevin Spacey), fight to end the corruption, which, for vaguely-explained reasons, is threatening to turn the city of Edison into a fascist state.
This film provides examples of:
- Batman Cold Open: Deed and Lazerov stop a bank robbery unrelated to the main plot.
- Everyone Is Single: FRAT cops are inexplicably discouraged from having relationships.
- Foreshadowing: Don't light any matches in the barn, because it's full of dry, flammable hay.
- If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten: Lazerov telling Deed to kill the crackheads.
- Informed Ability: Pollack is the best writer ever. We never get to see anything he's written.
- Improvised Weapon: Lazerov beats Deed with an office phone; the latter proceeds to staple the former's neck.
- Misplaced-Names Poster: As pictured above, only Kevin Spacey is in the right place. We have Justin Timberlake under Morgan Freeman's name, Freeman under LL Cool J's name, and Cool J under Timberlake's name.
- Moral Dissonance: By the end of the film, Deed has singlehandedly slaughtered and set fire to the entire FRAT department.
- Satellite Love Interest: Pollack's girlfriend only exists to tell him how sexy he is, tell him he's a good writer, and get beaten to a pulp by FRAT as a warning.
- Stuff Blowing Up: We're explicitly told that if the dry hay catches fire, the entire barn will explode. This does not happen. Pollack does use the hay to blow up Lazerov's car instead.