Outwit. Outspy. Outsmart. Outplay. Then get out.
A pair of corporate spies who share a steamy past hook up to pull off the ultimate con job on their respective bosses.
The film opens five years before the present day, showing the Fourth of July celebration at the American consulate in Dubai, where Ray Koval (Clive Owen), an MI6 agent, appears to seduce Claire Stenwick (Julia Roberts), who, unbeknownst to him, is a CIA agent. Claire drugs Ray and steals classified documents from him.
The scene cuts to a silent, slow motion brawl on the tarmac (over which the opening credits play) between Howard Tully (Tom Wilkinson), the CEO of Burkett & Randle, and Dick Garsik (Paul Giamatti), the CEO of Equikrom, illustrating the longstanding rivalry between the two executives.
In the present day, Ray is now a corporate spy in New York City who recently went to work for Equikrom. At a meet, he spots Claire and thinks the mission is blown. Ray follows her and confronts her about the incident in Dubai. Claire puts on an innocent act, pretending she has never met Ray, until they both realize they were supposed to meet. Claire has been working undercover for Equikrom at Burkett & Randle for the past 14 months, and Ray is to be her new handler.
At Burkett & Randle a major development is underfoot, and Tully makes a speech that paints them as innovators defending themselves from duplicity and theft. At Equikrom, Garsik obtains a copy of the speech through Claire and plots to steal whatever Burkett & Randle has developed.
The scene cuts to two years earlier in Rome, where we see Ray and Claire again meeting for the "first" time since Dubai, replaying the same dialog as in NYC. The audience learns that Ray and Claire did not meet at Equikrom by chance--they plan to cheat both companies and sell a corporate secret to the highest bidder. However, neither still completely trusts the other, nor knows who is playing whom.
The team at Equikrom believes Ronny Partiz (Denham), a child prodigy turned genius, might be responsible for Burkett & Randle's new product. Ray and Boris Fetyov (Oleg Stefan) stake out Partiz at a casino in the Bahamas, where Claire and Jeff Bauer (Thomas McCarthy) from Burkett & Randle foil their plans by planting evidence of them cheating the casino.
In return, Tully at Burkett & Randle thanks Claire for successfully defending the company's new product, revealing it to be a cure for baldness. When Bauer is later caught attempting to steal the formula and Claire is left guarding him and the formula by herself, she uses one of the rigged photocopiers at Burkett & Randle to transfer it to Equikrom.
Back at Equikrom, Claire accuses Ray of stealing the formula for himself. He is searched and exposed when it is found. Claire waits at the Zürich airport in Switzerland and when Ray arrives, it is revealed that Claire and Ray were only putting on an act at Equikrom. Each pretends at first they don't have the formula and then Claire confesses she loves Ray and says they are each the only one who can ever understand the other. Claire proposes they each reveal what they have on the count of three but Ray says he loves Claire back by saying first that he had another copy of the formula. Claire admits that she had it too, creating real trust for the first time.
Ray and Claire attempt to sell the formula to a Swiss company for $35 million. Meanwhile, Garsik tells his shareholders that they are in the final stages of testing for a product that cures baldness. The Swiss, however, say the formula is a fraud. The scene cuts to ten days earlier, where Claire and Ray were practicing the act they would present when it was revealed that Ray would be Claire's handler. Unbeknownst to them, there was a hidden microphone in their room monitoring them. From the beginning, Claire and Ray were being played by Tully and his people. Pam Frailes (Kathleen Chalfant) from Equikrom was really working for Burkett & Randle all along, Partiz was used as the bait, Bauer staged stealing the formula, and the formula never existed at all. It was all a trick to get Garsik to announce he had a revolutionary product, which was in fact just a regular skin cream, and which would ruin Garsik and Equikrom. The film ends with Ray and Claire realizing they have been played by Tully.