When an ambitious and ruthless New York detective finally uncovers a huge conspiracy, an entrenched NYPD detective is assigned to a citywide manhunt of two notorious street cops. As the evening dawns, he becomes increasingly unsure of just who to pursue--and who's after him. When the manhunt intensifies, police make the decision to close all of New York's 21 bridges in order to prevent the criminals from crossing over.
The movie starts off with Inspector Joe Mantegna (Kevin Pollack), a seasoned detective who has recently been promoted to the top job of the department. His new boss tells him that an undercover sting has uncovered information linking the suspect in question to a previous hit, and Joe knows that this is his only chance at catching the killer. He immediately calls up his partner, Detective Joe Pantoja (Miguel Ferrer), to help him close all of the city's bridges and bring down one of the suspects.
But just as they are ready to go on the trail of their suspect, another cop called into the office by a frustrated witness, Detective Steve O'Brien (Javier Bardem), shows up. O'Brien was previously assigned to investigate the murder of a pregnant woman in Brooklyn. Although O'Brien had found out that one of the suspects in the case had been seen at the scene, the man wasn't there at the time. Now, though, O'Brien is determined to find out what else is going on between the two men. So, when they arrive at the scene of O'Brien's investigation, a suspicious police officer points them toward O'Brien's suspect, Detective Joe Mantegna.
The pair race each other toward the scene, but they aren't even able to catch sight of each other before the cop arrives. As the chase continues, Joe is distracted by O'Brien and falls in love with the detective. Things get even more out of hand when Joe realizes that the suspect in question may be the father of the pregnant woman he has been following, which turns out to be one of the city's most powerful figures.
The movie doesn't always follow the traditional narrative structure of a detective trying to catch his or her suspect, but it also takes a unique approach to the way the relationship between Joe and the suspect. It's unclear why Joe suddenly became interested in this suspect at the beginning of the film; there's no indication that the man has any criminal past that would have caused him to be interested in Joe. The fact that Joe was so quick to fall for the suspect is just one of the many mystery elements that give Joe the edge over other movies featuring detectives.
Another interesting aspect of the film is that even though Joe and Mantegna are both men, they are constantly referred to as female pronouns. They are referred to by various forms of the name "she "he" and are often referred to as "he "him" throughout the movie. This makes for some very interesting subplots in addition to providing a look into how women view relationships between men and women in different cultures and backgrounds.