One night in the San Fernando Valley, hired killer Lee Woods (James Spader) and Dosmo Pizzo (Danny Aiello) sneak into the home of Olympic skiier Becky Foxx (Teri Hatcher), sedate her, and put a bullet in the head of her ex-husband Roy (Peter Horton).
Pulling a doublecross, Lee shoots Dosmo and leaves him a car rigged with a bomb, planning to lay the blame for the murder on him. But the clever Dosmo, expecting such a ploy, survives the shot with a bulletproof vest and escapes before the bomb can go off, taking refuge in the mansion of obnoxious art dealer Allan Hopper (Greg Cruttwell), who he takes hostage, along with his assistant (Glenne Headly).
Meanwhile, Becky, having awoken to find a dead man in bed with her, reports it to two Vice cops: Alvin Strayer (Jeff Daniels), a cynical veteran on the verge of a breakdown, and Wes Taylor (Eric Stolz), a rookie who just wants to be in Homicide.
Becky, it soon develops, is the one who hired Lee to kill Roy, but the assassin and his girlfriend (Charlize Theron) are going to have a little trouble collecting their money, as it sits in a lockbox in Becky's bedroom, which is now a crime scene.
As Lee heads off to get his money, a suicidal movie director (Paul Mazursky) arrives at Allan Hopper's house with the art dealer's nurse/sister (Louise Fletcher), forcing Dosmo to take them captive.
Dosmo just wants to get out of town, Lee just wants his money, Wes just wants to crack a case, and their paths are about to intersect one last time on the second of two days in the Valley.
This report prepared by James Craver