Irene's husband, 'Standard', is out of prison, and immediately caught up with a criminal gang that want him to run an armed robbery in exchange for protection money. He is beat up in front of his boy when he doesn't play along, and soon found by 'Driver' who sits down to have a heart to heart with his new friends.
The bad Russian gang led by a man named Cook want Standard to knock off a pawn-brokers, with the help of another accomplice - Blanche (Christina Hendricks). Driver takes them both to the store. Blanche leaves first with a suitcase full of cash. Standard follows later - but is shot through the shop window. The store owner walks out with a shotgun, and shots him a couple more times.
Driver slams on the gas, and another waiting car follows them.
They dodge the traffic, and Driver manages to lose the tail. They get back to a motel to look at the bag - which has over a million inside. The news report on tv has a different version of events and doesn't mention the money. Blanche is freaking out - and Driver learns that she was meant to double-cross them. Just then a Russian guy shoves a shotgun through the bathroom window and blows out Blanche's brains. Driver dives for cover as another foot-soldier kicks his way through the front door. They wrestle, and Driver manages to take them both hitmen out.
Covered in blood, Driver takes the money to Shannon - and tells his mentor to leave immediately.
Driver dusts himself down and goes to find Cook in a local stripclub. He tortures him a little to find out that it was Nino (Ron Perlman) who was behind the whole thing.
Cook goes to meet Bernie and Nino in the pizza shop. Nino has stolen the money from the mob, and wants everyone dead who can link him to the crime. Bernie reluctantly agrees - and first kills Cook in the pizza place.
Driver gets back to the apartment to rescue Irene. In the elevator they bump into another of Nino's hitmen. Driver kisses Irene before he takes out the hitman -- and then stomps onto his head until he graphically cracks open the skull(!) Irene understandably freaks out. He's kind of blown that one.
Shannon doesn't listen to Driver's advice and hangs around the shop. Bernie Rose shows up. He wants to know where Driver is. Shannon won't talk, so Bernie slashes his wrists to give him a quick death. Driver returns to find his friend dead, and retrieves the money.
Now Driver is on a mission to end it. He "disguises" himself with the rubber stunt mask (that does add a little comedy edge to the movie) and waits for Nino. He tails them as they leave - then slams into the car down the road. As they get out, Driver waits and then slams into them again. Nino's car rolls down a cliff onto a beach. Nino staggers out and tries to hide in the water - but Driver is too quick for him.
Driver phones Rose to strike a deal - the money for the safety of Irene and her boy. Driver calls Irene one last time.
They meet at a restaurant to talk about the terms - and Bernie can't guarantee Driver's safety. Outside Driver hands over the cash, and Rose stabs him. Driver stabs him back - and Rose falls dead.
Driver does the creepy very-long stare off into the distance for an eternity .. but then he blinks and is ok to continue.
As it ends he is driving around, all to music which repeatedly tells us that he's a hero.