The general plot is that John Brennan's (Russell Crow) wife is sentenced to life in prison for murder. Convinced of her innocence, he exhausts every alternative until the only option left is to break her out.
The movie starts off slow, it takes about a half hour for John to decide that he will break his wife out of prison. The next hour is him planning and then the last hour is the attempt. I personally really liked the pace to the movie, it built then exploded in the same way as "Taxi Driver" or "Cop Land", or more recently "Drive". It depicts a very realistic approach to how a man with no criminal background would go about trying to break someone out of prison. And coincidentally how imperfect his approach is is really what makes this movie a thriller. He makes so many mistakes along the way, that the break really seems un-doable. And that's why this movie is so great: you're not watching Matt Damon in Bourne Identity who will obviously overcome every obstacle, you're watching a real person in a real world. You're not sure if his wife is in fact innocent, and you're not sure if John has the guts of the ability to do what he has to. A great watch with a great build for an edge of your seat finale!