Criminal Brian Nichols (David Oyelowo) breaks out of a courthouse jail and kills four people, including a judge and a court reporter. He goes on the run, armed with a police radio, so he can stay one step ahead of Detective John Chestnut (Michael Kenneth Williams) and his partner Sergeant Carmen Sandoval (Leonor Varela).
Nichols steals vehicles at gunpoint, but finds himself trapped in the city with roadblocks cutting off all available escape routes.
So he seeks refuge in the home of waitress Ashley Smith (Kate Mara), a recovering drug addict, who could lose custody of her cherubic daughter Paige (Elle Graham) if she can’t overcome her cravings for crystal meth. Trapped in her apartment with Nichols, Smith strikes up an awkward repartee with her emotionally unstable captor, who has a $65,000 bounty on his head. Unable to use her mobile phone to call for help, Smith confronts her demons and prays for a miracle so she can be reunited with her child, who is being cared for by her aunt Kim (Mimi Rogers).
Closing with a dedication to the victims of Nichols’ jailbreak, Captive shoulders its responsibility to the facts, largely sacrificing cinematic thrills for the sake of accuracy.