This action oriented thriller sparks off when three amateur criminals hold up a card game and steal cash from all the players. Their heist destroys confidence and all illegal card games in the area stop. Eager to get business and cash moving again, the local mob hire hitman Jackie (Brad Pitt) to find out who knocked off the game and punish them in an effort to restore confidence.
Jackie struggles to get clear direction from the mob that appears to be run as an autonomous collective, leaderless committee. He presses them to allow him to hit Markie Trattman (Ray Liotta) because whilst innocent Markie is the person everybody thinks held up the card game. Jackie's assertion is that if people believe the issue is resolved confidence will be restored; even if the situation remains unchanged.
Markie having been brutally despatched, Jackie is sent to perform a hit on the original three criminals actually responsible. The film is interspersed with talking head news footage of Bush and Obama referring to the struggling economy and the need for America to pull together as a community, the relevance of which becomes clear in the closing scene.
Having eliminated all his targets, Jackie meets with his operator to collect the cash only to be informed that his payment has gone down. The meeting takes place in a bar in which the TV is showing President Barack Obama's inaugural address. Handing over the smaller than agreed sum of money, the Driver says, These are recession prices.
Jackie turns to the TV on which Obama is still addressing the Nation and replies, This guy wants to tell me we're living in a community? Don't make me laugh. I'm living in America, and in America you're on your own. America's not a country. It's just a business. Now fuckin' pay me.