TWA pilot Barry Seal (Tom Cruise) likes to do a little smuggling on the side, which catches the attention of the CIA. An agent (Domnhall Gleeson) approaches him to do a little flying in order to discreetly transport items to Central and South America.
Barry, a good-natured Southern boy, agrees and although the pay is more than he made as a commercial pilot, it's still not enough to take care of his growing family. That's why when he runs into several drug kingpins, including Pablo Escobar, he agrees to help them get their cocaine to the States.
Barry becomes more and more involved in the smuggling business and before long, he has more money than he can count. He even has to hire other pilots to meet the demand for his services. But when the government gets wind of what Barry's been doing in addition to working for them, will they support him or throw him to the wolves?