Joe Keyes: Not a perfect world, for in a perfect world evil loses.
The begins with a space battle. The path of an alien spacecraft is followed into the Earth's atmosphere as it is attacked by another craft. The scene switches to a small girl playing in a playground. She cries out when something stings the palm of her hand, and we see the tiny red alien craft burrow inside.
Joe Keyes is a private detective and he is sitting in a shabby office when a woman and child enter. She wants Keyes to take on a job for her. She wants him to find her husband, Warren Rickman, and help him to kill a man. She hands him two objects so that her husband will know that she sent Keyes. The first item is a locket that Warren gave to her husband on their honeymoon. The second is a Book of Psalms that he gave to her on the night their daughter was born.
The little girl, Gracie, covertly brushes away from smoke that seems to be coming from her, and then the woman and child leave.
Keyes locates Warren Rickman in a hotel room and after convincing Warren that his wife sent him, the man tells Keyes that he wants him to help him kill a Dr. Thomas Newmeyer, a man who was born in 1920 and so who would be about 70 years old. Keyes is stunned when Warren shows him his driver's licence as the date makes out Warren Rickman to be 68 years old. However, the man in front of Keyes can only be in his early forties. Warren tries to explain about the Reds.
Rickman: People with Reds - Fire is our enemy.
The door breaks open and a man dressed as a milkman rushes in. Keyes shoots but the bullets do not stop the man who seems to also have superhuman strength. He gun whips Keyes. While Keyes is fighting against losing consciousness, he sees Newmeyer approach Warren Rickman. Newmeyer takes out a device and presses it against Rickman. He is removing all trace of Reds from the man, and then he kills Rickman.
Keyes is trying to find the woman and child and the trail leads him back to a plush private detective agency called Ramirez, Qwik, Keyes and Associates. Keyes goes in to see Ramirez and we discover that Keyes used to be a partner before some tragedy entered his life. Lew Ramirez tells Keyes he wants him to come back and that is why he has not removed Keyes name from the company. He tells Keyes that what happened was not his fault but Keyes still blames himself for the tragedy.
Ramirez tells Keyes that Monica Quik is watching over their clients: Mrs Helen Rickman and her daughter, but she did not say where.
Keyes takes a guess based on his knowledge of Monica and returns to the hotel where Warren died. He locates her in Room 506 of the King Edward Hotel. Bradley Parker is her back-up and soon after Keyes arrives, Newmeyer's man finds them. The henchman breaks Parker's neck, and Keyes and the others are forced to flee.
A car chase ensues but Keyes ignites the fuel tank in a car and the resulting explosion stops Newmeyer and his henchman.
Keyes, Monica and the Rickmans reach a new safehouse at the Marina International, Bungalow 6. Keyes demands to know what is going on and Helen Rickman explains.
Eight years earlier, when she had turned fifty, she met her husband, Warren, who was a decade older. They had a child, Gracie, but she was born with several abnormalities including a club foot and cerebral palsy. Then one day, Gracie was stung in the playground and a miracle occurred. Helen Rickman explains about the Reds. There are two kinds:
Reds are the short-lived drones which are nanites: molecular protein machines that repair and regenerate tissue, and reverse the aging process.
Deep Red is likened to the Queen bee, and there is only one of these and it is inside Gracie.
Helen Rickman explains that Newmeyer's supply of Reds is running out and he needs Deep Red or, at the very least, more Red drones in order to retain his youth.
Keyes is offered a cigarette; the last in the packet and he accepts it gratefully. Later we see him taking bourbon from the minibar, and then the whiskey. He looks sweaty and unwell. Monica joins him and we learn that she is his estranged wife. Keyes and Monica had been working a case for a friend in the police force. Mack Waters had been receiving death threats against him and his family from a man called James Harper. On the day Joe Keyes was protecting the wife and child, Harper entered the family home. He had a gun to Mack's wife's head and gave Keyes no option but to drop his gun. When he did so, Harper shot all of them, but Keyes survived his injuries.
Lew Ramirez is murdered, and Mack Waters puts out an APB on Joe Keyes.
Keyes asks why he feels so unwell and he is told that he has Reds, that they were on the cigarette. He is told that he will feel better once they have finished making repairs to his body, but that they generate a lot of heat while they are working.
Keyes goes to get more cigarettes and he kicks the machine when all it has are menthols - which he hates.
We learn that Newmeyer has only two and one half hours left to get more Reds before he starts aging rapidly.
Keyes knows they need help so he contacts Det. Sergeant Eldon James, who is Mack's partner, even though he is aware that Mack holds him responsible for the death of his wife and child. Keyes agrees to meet James. However, after Keyes reveals where Helen and Gracie Rickman are hiding, James betrays him, having set him up to come face to face with Mack Waters.
Mack and Keyes argue while Keyes relives the tragedy, trying to explain to Mack that he had no choice at the time, and that he wished he could have died instead of them. He grabs Macks gunhand and tells him to shoot; taunting Mack until, with shock, Mack pulls the trigger. However, Keyes does not die even though he is shot at point blank range.
Mack is still in shock but he goes with Keyes to help him save Helen and Gracie.
They reach Newmeyer's laboratory to find Gracie, Helen and Monica strapped to medical tables. Newmeyer intends to extract all the Reds from Helen and Monica, and then remove the Deep Red from Gracie. Mack finds his dead partner and they discover that Reds also give the host shapeshifting abilities, though it raises the body's temperature to 42 degrees C, and hence the smoke that can be seen. We realise that the Helen and Gracie who came to Joe's office was Newmeyer and his henchman in shapeshifted form. We also learn that the Lew Ramirez Joe met was, in fact, Newmeyer who had already killed Ramirez at that point, and that the Eldon James Keyes met up with was also Newmeyer in disguise.
While Keyes is freeing Monica and Helen Rickman, Mack comes across Newmeyer but Newmeyer has a gun to the girl's head and Mack is forced to drop his gun. It is like a replay of Keyes with Mack's family for, once Mack is unarmed, Newmeyer shoots him.
Keyes goes after Newmeyer and kills him, saving Gracie in time.
Helen and Gracie Rickman enter the police station and persuade the desk sergeant to allow Gracie to see her father. They walk along a row of cells until they find Joe Keyes sitting inside a holding cell. Gracie hands Keyes a cigarette which he smokes and soon after, we see Helen, Gracie and Mack Waters leaving the Police station.
Monica is waiting in a car outside and she smiles when she sees Mack, except it is Joe Keyes in shapeshifted form. They all get into the car and drive off.