Starting the film with a young woman involved in a fatal car crash, the opening plays out throughout the movie in clips. A couple then sees their son collapse during a sports event and rush him to the hospital. They are told he needs a heart transplant, and the insurance through the father, John's, job will not cover the bills. They are left to raise a third of the bill before their son can even be placed on the donor list for the heart he needs to stay alive.
As he and his wife, Denise, try everything they can think of to raise the money, the hospital grows impatient and informs them they will be releasing their son due to the inability to pay. They then take him home, without much hope of his survival. After being told to do something about the situation by his wife, John takes matters into his own hands. He arrives at the hospital with a gun and takes hostages in order to get his son on the donor list.
The police and the SWAT team arrive, along with a hostage negotiator to try to diffuse the situation, while supporters and news crews also gather outside the hospital. As John and his hostages get to know each other, they begin to have sympathy for his cause, and he allows for them to get the treatment they came for.
Some time passes and John agrees to the release of three hostages in exchange for his son being on the list of heart recipients. While they are being released, a sniper is given the go ahead to enter using the air duct system. He takes a shot at John, who is only slightly injured by it, and then the sniper's leg comes through the ceiling. John pulls him down and beats him up.
John then puts the sniper in front of him to go out and demand his son be brought to the hospital. The police agree and he lets the sniper go. Once his son is in the hospital, he intends to shoot himself in the head in order to give his heart to the boy, and he has the hostages be witness to his last wishes.
In the operating room he attempt to shoot himself, but has left the safety on. While he is getting ready for the second try his wife arrives with news that a donor is on the way that matches their son. It is the young woman from the opening scene. He and his wife watch the operation, then he is arrested and goes to trial.
The hostages testify for him, and he is acquitted of all but the kidnapping charge. The film ends with his lawyer telling him he can get the sentence dropped to two years with the right jury.