It's 1989 and bored US soldier Ray Elwood (Joaquin Phoenix) is finding some original ways to keep himself busy. Stuck on duty as Batallion Clerk at a US Army base in West Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Elwood is maintaining a lucrative sideline in black-market trade and minor league drug-dealing, right under the nose of his hapless superior, Colonel Berman (Ed Harris). When a training exercise goes wrong, Elwood and his cohorts are there to pick up the pieces: in this case, a huge stash of arms which they plan to sell to the local mafia in exchange for money and dope. But their plan starts looking a little less foolproof when hard-as-nails Commander Robert Lee (Scott Glenn) turns up. He's there to tighten up the battallion's operation and that includes busting Elwood's scams. Worse yet, he's brought his daughter (Anna Paquin) with him; she's smart, sexy and not afraid to go against her father's wishes - all of which makes her irresistible to Elwood.