Jake Slater is a top hitman for the CIA. Now nearing retirement he dreams of becoming a writer. This is his supreme passion, apart from murder.
By chance, he meets Yvonne Badcheck while walking his dog along Miami beach and they quickly form a relationship.
"I have never met anyone like you," she tells him. "You seem so cold and distant ... and yet... your poetry speaks to the heart. I wept when I read "Oh Death Where is Thy Stung?". I never thought I would ever meet a man so sensitive and in tune with his feminine side as you. I simply can't imagine now living without you... and we have only known each other for two and a half hours."
"You are the first person ever to read my work," says Jake grabbing her shoulders and staring keenly into her eyes."And I am lucky to have met you... and not just because you are a dusky beauty built like a guided missile, but because you seem to understand."
For fear of losing her, Jake refuses to speak of his past or what he did. Gone from memory are the two hundred and ninety-two men and women he disposed of in his career using every assassin's weapon known from Karate chop to rat poison. He vows to keep his secret. Instead, he teaches Yvonne how to sail his yacht and to cook Bream using tin foil and a cooker. She is captivated.
But, as fate would have it, only two months into the relationship Jake is called upon to do one more job for the department.
When his controller Alfie Fox Pike tells him who the target is, Jake is visibly shocked and then filled with grief; so much so that he retires briefly to his study to scribble down a Haiku before the inspiration leaves him.
Jake has been ordered to assassinate his lover!
When Pike tells him who Yvonne really is, a Syrian mole working for ISIS, he really has no choice. Thus the stage is set for one of the most poignant scenes in cinema history.
Scene: Interior...Night...Garage of Miami Beach House.
Yvonne is tied to a chair with a dim light swinging above her head while Jake paces the floor wrestling with his conscience ... and another line for a new poem about his impending tragedy provisionally titled "A Farewell to Her Arms".
Jake: I thought you loved me.
Yvonne: Yea, like I can love a raving, mass-murdering psycho? Whattafuck do you take me for... Saint Theresa?
Jake: That's what you think of me, huh?
Yvonne: That's what you ARE, you numbskull!
Jake: And all that stuff about my poetry....
Yvonne: Jesus you need help! There's nothing wrong with you Jake, seven psychiatrists could not put right in seven years working seven fucking nights a week! Besides, your iambic pentameters suck! And your rhymes... "boat-coat, cloud-loud, meet-greet". For chrissakes gimme a break... Jake.!
Jake: God, I hate insincerity! And your love-making? That too was... er... fake?
Yvonne: Piece of fake cake, Jake. Women do what they have to;.. ask Hillary. Let's get this over with. You can write about it later. And don't steal my lines!
And so it ends, with Jake putting a plastic bag over Yvonne's face and kissing her to death. It was something he had never tried before and wondered if it would work.
Critics are already touting this as one of De Niro's most convincing performances since "Meet The Fokkers".