What if a death-row inmate, just before the appointed time of execution, manages to grab a weapon and hostages? What does he have to lose? How do you negotiate with him?
It is the nightmare of every prison official. Here is a young man, a cop-killer, condemned to death, and now commands his own future. He has twisted the system; there is nothing to negotiate except his own survival.
In the death-house cellblock: Jody Thomas barefoot, armed, with three hostages including a Catholic priest. Caught up in the explosive melee, his ACLU attorney, a young woman fighting to save Jody's life in defiance of the rush to capital punishment.
Up above in the control center: the Warden, an experienced professional reluctantly cast in the role of executioner and pressured by his hostile staff. At his back, the Governor, a seasoned, slick-willy politician whose agenda is shaped by his own public image.
Outside: a media circus.
In real time, the countdown begins. There is no way to roust Jody without harming the hostages. A gritty stalemate becomes an uncontrollable horror. Sacrificing the life of a hostage, Jody sets a deadline. A deal is struck: his death sentence will be commuted. The shock of it is... Jody rejects the offer. He knows he won´t get far, yet he wants to escape. He doesn´t want to die by agreement! This young, uneducated loser has discovered his own free will. Another deal -- engineered by the Governor -- sets Jody and his hostages toward escape and the hungry, beckoning media outside. A bizarre dance begins that brings betrayal, madness and destroys Jody. The sweet smell of politics prevails.