Grimm, dressed as a clown, robs a bank in Midtown Manhattan. He ingeniously sets up a hostage situation and then slips away with an enormous sum of money and his accomplices, girlfriend Phyllis and best friend Loomis.
The heist itself is comparatively straightforward and easy, but the getaway turns into a nightmare. The relatively simple act of getting to the airport to catch a flight out of the city is complicated by the fact that fate, luck and all of New York City appears to be conspiring against their escape.
For starters, construction work obscures the roads to the airport, resulting in the three robbers becoming lost in an unfamiliar part of the city. Then, a con-artist/thief robs the trio of everything they have (except the bank money, which they have taped under their clothes).
When changing into new clothes, they are almost gunned down by the stressed incoming tenant of Grimm's apartment, as members of the fire department respond to a call by pushing their hydrant-blocking car out of the way only to make it roll into a ditch.
When the three crooks eventually manage to flag down a cab, the driver is hopelessly non-fluent in English. An anal-retentive bus driver, a run-in with mobsters and Phyllis' increasing desperation to tell Grimm the news that she is pregnant with his child add further complications.
All the while, Rotzinger, a world-weary but relentless chief of the New York City Police Department, is doggedly attempting to nab the fleeing trio. A final confrontation onboard an airliner at the airport occurs between the robbers and the chief, who gets the added prize of having a major crime-boss dropped in his lap.