Four people dressed in painters' outfits march into the busy lobby of Manhattan Trust, a cornerstone Wall Street Branch of a worldwide financial institution. Within seconds, the costumed robbers place the bank under a surgically planned siege, and the 50 patrons and staff become unwitting pawns in an airtight heist. NYPD hostage negotiators Detectives Keith Frazier and Bill Mitchell are dispatched to the scene with orders to establish contact with the heist's ringleader, Dalton Russell, and ensure safe release of the hostages. Working alongside Emergency Services Unit (ESU) Captain John Darius, all are hopeful that the situation can be peacefully diffused and that control of the bank and release of those inside can be secured in short order.
But Russell proves an unexpectedly canny opponent--clever, calm and totally in command--a puppet master with a meticulous plan to disorient and confuse not only the hostages, but also the authorities. Outside, the crowd of New Yorkers grows as the situation becomes increasingly intense tense, with Frazier's superiors becoming more concerned about his ability to keep the standoff from spiraling out of control. The robbers appear to consistently be one step ahead of the police, outwitting Frazier and Mitchell at every turn. Frazier's suspicions that more is at work than anyone perceives are justified with the entry of Madeline White, a power player with shadowy objectives, who requests a private meeting with Russell. The chairman of the bank's board of directors, controlling entrepreneur Arthur Case, is also uniquely interested in the moment-to-moment happenings inside the branch. But just what are the robbers after? Why has nothing worked to alleviate the standoff, which stretches on hour after hour? Frazier is convinced that invisible strings are being pulled and secret negotiations are taking place as the powder keg situation grows more unstable by the moment.