Charismatic psychopath Greg Powell teams up with Jimmy Youngblood, a petty thief. Driving in Los Angeles in 1963, they are pulled over by Detective Hettinger and his partner, Campbell, for an illegal U-turn. Panicked, Powell kidnaps the officers and kills Campbell. Hettinger escapes, and his description of the men leads to their arrest. As both men evade prosecution with legal tricks, Hettinger is racked with guilt over his survival.