In 1968 Texas, a pair of wounded bank robbers tear down a highway in a car full of cash, police cars in hot pursuit. The getaway driver steers off the road and manages to shake the cops, but accidentally plunges the car into a river. One of the robbers manages to escape the sinking vehicle before succumbing to his injuries and passing out as cops close in.
Twenty years later, Hap Collins and Leonard Pine trade friendly banter while working as rose-field pickers before their boss informs them they’ve been laid off. After Leonard blows off steam uprooting a few rosebushes, the two pals go grocery shopping, stretching their limited funds and food stamps as far as possible.
Hap and Leonard’s skeet shooting session is interrupted by the unexpected arrival of Trudy Fawst, Hap’s ex-wife. Leonard warns Hap not to let her break his heart again before she greets the men. Hap invites Trudy inside for coffee and reminds her that she “gave [Leonard] hell” for enlisting to fight in Vietnam. Trudy seduces Hap and they go to bed together.
The next morning, Hap and Leonard spar with boxing gloves until Leonard lays Hap out with a roundhouse kick. Hap reveals to Leonard that Trudy has asked him to join her in recovering the lost money from the river seen in the opening flashback. Trudy is unhappy that Hap brought Leonard in on the deal without asking her, but explains the plan: her most recent husband, Howard, was incarcerated for environmental terrorism. While there, Howard met the surviving bank robber from the flashback, who told him the money’s approximate location and offered to split it fifty-fifty. The robber was killed in prison.
A police officer drops off Leonard’s cantankerous and homophobic Uncle Chester, who calls Leonard an offensive slur on the ride home. When Hap has Chester alone for a moment, he warns the old man not to denigrate his nephew’s sexuality again.
When Chester finds his home vandalized by young neighbors, Leonard beats the largest member of the group, warning the men to leave Chester be.
Hap and Leonard stock up on weaponry and speculate about Howard’s motives.
Hap, Leonard and Trudy drive to the compound where Howard is squatting. They’re greeted by Howard’s henchman Chub.
Trudy introduces Howard to the guys and explains Leonard’s presence (as well as his potential value as a trained military diver). Howard is friendly but both men are put off by their host’s hippy-dippy, overly familiar manner. The team’s final member, the intimidating, heavily-scarred Paco, introduces himself as well.
Howard bores Hap and Leonard with a lecture on the evils of the capitalist establishment, trying to talk Hap into chipping his share into an unspecified idealistic venture. Hap declines and the exchange gets heated, with Hap mockingly holding the unspoken fact of the previous night’s intimacy with Trudy over Howard’s head. Howard throws Hap for a loop by revealing that Trudy already told him about the encounter and that he himself doesn’t believe in sexual possessiveness. A disgusted Hap twists Howard’s arm behind his back violently til Howard cries uncle.
Hap drives out to a roadside in the middle of the night and recalls a childhood memory: his father pulling over to help an African-American motorist stranded with car problems in heavy rain.
A policeman approaches a sporty car parked inexplicably in an empty lot, blasting disco music. The passenger, Soldier, unnerves the officer from the get-go, and when the sounds of muffled struggling come from the trunk the cop orders Soldier out of the car at gunpoint. Soldier’s partner, Angel, sneaks up behind the cop and slits his throat. As the officer bleeds out, Soldier tells him, “I’m looking for a man named Paco.”