In the film, Luke (Ryan Gosling) is in constant motion, a high-wire motorcycle stunt performer who travels from town to town with the carnival. Passing through Schenectady in upstate New York, he tries to reconnect with a former lover, Romina (Eva Mendes), only to learn that she has in his absence given birth to their son Jason. Luke resolves to forsake life on the road and to provide for his newfound family, taking a job as car mechanic with Robin (Ben Mendelsohn). Robin soon discovers Lukes special talents, and proposes to partner with him in a string of spectacular bank robberies. But it is only a matter of time before Luke will run up against the law which comes in the form of Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper).
Avery is an ambitious rookie cop navigating a local police department ruled by the menacingly corrupt detective Deluca (Ray Liotta). When Avery, just beginning to balance his profession and his family life with wife Jennifer (Rose Byrne) and their infant son AJ, confronts Luke, the full consequences will reverberate into the next generation. It is then that the two sons, Jason (Dane DeHaan) and AJ (Emory Cohen), must face their fateful, shared legacy.