Jackson is an Irish professional criminal and an expert on bombs. One night in New Orleans, Louisiana, he was arrested by Officer Danny Fisher, who also accidentally got his girlfriend, Erica, killed after she ran into the path of a moving truck to escape his custody. Before being arrested, Jackson read Fisher's nametag and swore that he would remember him. The words continued to haunt Fisher.
A year later, Jackson escaped from prison and vows to get his revenge on Fisher for taking away his love. He does this by taking Fisher's girlfriend Molly Porter and gives him 12 challenges to get her back, or he will kill her. Danny's house and car suddenly explode, killing Phil, Danny's plumber friend inside. The house, the car, and Phil were "Round 1".
Molly's kidnapping fulfills 'Round 2’. Miles promises that if Danny does all that he says and lives through all 12 rounds, he will let Molly go. For "Round 3", Danny and Hank must follow a series of clues to locate the cell phone that Miles calls and for Round 4 Danny has to get to New Orleans Savings and Loan where a fire has broken out and he must extract two security deposit boxes within 20 minutes. Hank has a lead on the man who helped kidnap Molly, and volunteers to look into that while Danny continues with the "game". FBI Agents George Aiken and Ray Santiago approach Danny and he agrees to work with them to get Molly back.
For ‘Round 5’ one of the security boxes is a bomb and the other contains a clue to the next round. Danny is able to discover the bomb and get rid of it at the nick of time. The other box contains a room key for a Hotel. The room is raided and found empty. The next task there for Danny is to get out of the elevator before it falls, in 60 seconds Danny manages to escape. For the next round, Danny follows a series of clues to a bus where he finds Molly on board, wearing a bomb underneath her jacket. Danny is handcuffed to a bar and is given an envelope with a phone number as the clue to the next round. The Feds try to get Miles but he escapes with Molly. When Danny is freed, he tells the Feds about the bomb. Hank shows up, and tells Danny he has located Miles's henchman, Anthony Deluso. Santiago approaches and offers his help. The next task is for Danny to find the correct cell phone number that disarms bombs placed in different locations. Danny tries a number randomly and succeeds.
Miles answers and tells him that his call disabled Streetcar 907's brakes. Danny and Santiago drive off. He and Santiago jump out as the car slams into the transformer, shutting off electricity for the whole neighborhood. Danny and Santiago then run along the streetcar, clearing people out of the way until it can slow to a halt. In a welding factory, a mine planted by Miles explodes, killing Hank and Deluso. Danny gets word of this from Aiken. Aiken tells him that he has been obsessed with catching Miles since a Stinger missile which he stole, and Aiken failed to recover, was used to shoot down a passenger plane. Miles calls and says that Molly's bomb can now only be disarmed by Danny's fingerprint. He tells Danny to pay a visit to Erica. Danny, Santiago, and Aiken get into a car and start for the cemetery.
On the way Chuck Jansen, another detective, calls Danny to tell him that all five numbers in the envelope were rigged to the streetcar. Moreover, Miles had cameras monitoring the elevator shaft and set off the bomb five seconds early. Danny realizes that Willie's death in the elevator episode was orchestrated by Miles and not just a chance casualty. Santiago does a check on Willie and finds he had a second job as a Homeland Security guard. They figure out that Miles was leading them to take out the power because in such cases Homeland Security comes in to move the unprotected cash. Miles's grudge against Danny was only a cover for him to use Danny as a pawn in his scheme to steal this money.
Aiken tells Santiago to lock down the Mint, while he and Danny go after Molly. As they drive, Danny realizes that Round 12 must be a wild-goose chase, since Miles needs Molly, a nurse, to help him escape. Meanwhile, Miles, dressed as a security guard, manages to steal the cash. He then uses Molly's ID card to get to a Medevac chopper on a hospital roof, transporting the money inside a body bag. He tells Molly to pilot the chopper. Danny and Aiken race to the hospital roof as Molly takes off. In the fight that ensues, Aiken is wounded. Danny activates the touch phone-bomb and throws the switch away, leaving 30 seconds until the chopper blows and Molly and Danny jump out to a terrace pool as the helicopter explodes, killing Jackson.