JOHNNY CALDWELL is as unlikely a made man as the Charlotte underworld has ever seen. But after his father died heroically saving the life of the REID crime family patriarch, MAXWELL, he inherited the unwelcome legacy of growing up inescapably entrenched as untouchable mobster gold.
His strong ethics and aversion to violence a lifelong teasing point, Johnny has managed to stay under the radar and off the streets with his hands and conscience clean by focusing his accounting skills on keeping the family out of hot water with the I.R.S. To the chagrin of his childhood “buddies,” however, Johnny is a shockingly accurate sharp shooter – but only at the shooting range – perhaps inspired by the markswoman he secretly pines for who practices there regularly.
Maxwell Reid, the aging patriarch, has a son, STEVEN, a violent wildcard the same age as Johnny. They grew up as brothers after Johnny was unofficially adopted by the Reids when his mother died.
When Steven discovers that he’s been cuckolded by his trophy wife and brazen cousin, he promptly murders both of them. Steven beats his wife to death in their home while Johnny winces downstairs. Then has Johnny chauffeur him to a museum to audaciously shoot his cousin in cold blood in front of a dozen eye witnesses.
Assistant District Attorney ELIZABETH DALTON is assigned Steven’s murder trial as her first case, thought to be a cake walk gift for her due to the number of eye witnesses – but they are dying and disappearing at an alarming rate. During the pretrial proceedings, Johnny recognizes Elizabeth as his crush and is distraught when she irritates misogynist Steven to the point that he decides to take her out as well.
Chauffeuring Steven again, this time to Elizabeth’s home, Johnny convinces Steven to let him kill Elizabeth, as proof, finally, that he is willing to get his hands wet (with blood) like everyone else. Steven agrees and leaves Johnny to do the deed. Planning to warn her, Johnny is thwarted when VINCE, a seasoned hit-man, shows up as back-up sent by Steven, to make sure the job gets done.
Scrambling, Johnny realizes the only way to save Elizabeth is to wound her convincingly and escape, setting her alarm off to get an ambulance there in time. But Elizabeth’s too tough to stay down and shoots back, wounding Johnny and apparently killing another goon, seconds before he takes her out himself.
Johnny is arrested for the attack and offers to turn state’s witness and testify against Steven in exchange for a walk and escape into the witness protection program. The D.A. reluctantly agrees to the deal because of the lack of any physical evidence and the fact only two of the original witnesses are still alive and willing to testify against Steven. Steven is sentenced to life in prison but not before putting a price on Elizabeth’s head, requiring her to reluctantly enter the Witness Security Program along with Johnny and the other two witnesses.
Eighteen months later, Vince gets an anonymous call offering him the locations of the witnesses hiding from Steven in exchange for a hit. Upon discovering his new identity, Vince goes to collect Johnny and bring him back to Charlotte. Vince has just euthanized terminally-ill Maxwell, setting a plan in motion to free Steven from prison. Maxwell’s deathbed order to Vince is to give Johnny another chance, squaring him once-and-for-all with Johnny’s dad.
Vince tracks down a regretful Johnny, who’s so bored in his new life as a sheep farmer, he’s learning ventriloquism. Johnny’s offered the chance to redeem himself by bringing back proof that he’s killed the two outstanding witnesses. When these witnesses vanish, the US Marshals Service, who runs the Witness Protection Program, immediately launches an investigation. SUSAN ANDERSON, the head of the program, is sent to Charlotte to help the local office, headed by Marshal DAN SLOAN. Their first action is to secure Elizabeth and Johnny, the only people left in the program because of Steven’s trial and work with HQ to find out who leaked this vital, top secret information.
Back in Charlotte, a procedural error committed by novice Deputy Marshal MATT YOUNG results in Elizabeth and Johnny coming face-to-face. Elizabeth’s Christian forgiveness is challenged severely by her abhorrence for the man who shot her.
Maxwell’s death grants Steven leave from prison to attend his father’s funeral. Maxwell’s body in the coffin is swapped out with Vince. He and another gunman ambush Steven’s escorts, securing his escape.
Susan instantly suspects that Johnny is involved in the recent disappearances and interrogates him. Dan interrupts and takes Johnny on a stake-out of a known Reid hangout. Dan and Johnny are captured by the Reids. Johnny turns on Dan, informing Vince of Dan’s true identity. A goon, PHIL, hands Johnny a gun to prove himself and Johnny shoots Dan fatally in the chest.
The next day, Johnny provides Vince with a video of him killing the remaining two witnesses from Steven’s trial and offers up a pair of blood-soaked shirts as further evidence. Steven shows up and welcomes Johnny back into the fold with a punch to the gut then immediately makes plans to kill Elizabeth. Johnny reveals her hidden location, which is verified by Vince’s anonymous source. Steven plans to kill Johnny after he helps abduct Elizabeth.
Back in DC, two of Susan’s colleagues accuse each other of being the leak.
That night, when Vince, Johnny and a pair of goons burst into Elizabeth’s apartment, they are surprised by a sting operation of FBI agents who kill the goons, shoot Johnny in the shoulder and arrest Vince. Thanks to a tip off, Elizabeth had been moved just prior to their arrival. The tip came from a listening device Dan injected into Johnny before the stake-out, we discover, with Johnny’s knowledge. That same night, Phil bursts into the Reid home to find Steven gone, tip-offs flying in all directions.
The next day, Vince waits to be interrogated. Should-be-dead Dan bursts in to do the honors. Vince, shocked to see the man brutally murdered in front of him, is further disheartened to discover that his goon Phil is actually a mole, an undercover FBI agent buried a year in his family operation, and he’s collected enough damning evidence to put him away forever. Dan makes a few generous offers to Vince in exchange for the name of the mole he’s got on the inside of their organization who’s breached the security of the 17,000 other people in the Witness Protection Program. Vince declines the offers in hopes of a better one.
Elizabeth is livid to see Dan chummy with Johnny and she lays into them. Johnny tells her that he saved her life the night he shot her. Elizabeth is appalled, can’t believe his hubris. Dan takes Elizabeth into a private room and explains how Johnny called him after the Reids discovered his location. Johnny agreed to go undercover to discover how the mobsters had found him to protect her again – not to mention the other witnesses, who, thanks to him, are all also still alive. Dan explains how Johnny, with the FBI’s help, made fake snuff videos and how Johnny had helped Dan simulated his own murder in front of the Reids. Elizabeth softens and wonders if what Johnny told her about the night he shot her is true: there’s only one way to find out.
Apologetically, Johnny explains that Vince would have killed both of them if he hadn’t made it look like he killed her – but she was too darn resilient. She wouldn’t stay down. He confesses to killing the goon who had her in his sights. She asked why he just didn’t just make things easier on himself and kill her. He explains, awkwardly, that he was smitten with her – and was trying to protect her all along. He shares that he was born again during his time in the Witness Protection Program. Elizabeth is conflicted.
The next day, Susan picks up Elizabeth and Johnny and takes them to much nicer digs for sequestration. She dismisses Matt, Johnny’s personal guard who not only blew protocol allowing Elizabeth and Johnny’s run-in, but also lost Johnny to the Reids when Dan dismissed him early a few days before.
Steven shows up at the upscale home and it is revealed that Susan is the source who gave the Reids the locations of the witnesses in exchange for a hit on her cheating husband. Steven enters the house and, after a scuffle, walks behind Elizabeth and Johnny, who are wounded and drop to pray. Matt, who followed Johnny and called Dan, shoots and kills Steven and arrests Susan. Redemption is a beautiful thing.
Six weeks later, Johnny eats lunch while someone moves in next door. Dan shows up for a visit. When Dan implies Johnny may be in the Witness Protection Program for a very long time, maybe even the rest of his life, Johnny asks if there’s any way he can contact Elizabeth. The former enemies had become very close during the month before his relocation but the rules are strict in keeping them apart. One fall out and both of their identities – and lives – are at risk. Dan concedes to see if he can break or bend any of the rules. Dan leaves and the doorbell rings again. Elizabeth introduces herself to Johnny as his new neighbor. They kiss.