Scientist Dr. Peyton Westlake (Liam Neeson) is developing a new type of synthetic skin to help acid burn victims. He is frustrated with a flaw that causes the skin to rapidly disintegrate after being exposed to light for 99 minutes. His girlfriend, attorney Julie Hastings (Frances McDormand), discovers an incriminating document proving that corrupt developer Louis Strack (Colin Friels) has been bribing members of the zoning commission. Before she leaves, Westlake asks her to marry him, but she hesitates. When she confronts Strack, he confesses, but shows Julie what he's been planning: To design a brand new city which would create a substantial amount of new jobs. He also warns Julie to keep her guard up as mobster Robert Durant (Larry Drake) would do anything to get his hands on the document.