文森特（罗伯特·德尼罗饰）是纽约警察局的一名高级警探，他头脑冷静、思维缜密，破获过很多起重大案件，再加上为人正直、秉公执法，为他赢得了卓著的声名和威望，上司器重他，同事和搭档也很尊敬他。 可是有一天，文森特在调查一起重大的凶杀案时发现，自己离家出走多年的儿子乔伊（詹姆斯·弗兰科饰）竟是最大的嫌疑犯，想当年，文森特和妻子离婚时，儿子无法接受父母离婚这个事实，毅然离家出走，不想现在重逢时竟是这样一种境地。 由于乔伊是首要嫌疑犯，文森特为了调查案子，回到了故乡长滩，找到自己以前的熟人和前妻打听儿子的情况，他这才发觉，儿子走向堕落，最初正是由于父母的离异，由于解不开的心结和长久得不到父亲的关怀，儿子的人生轨道发生了倾斜，才最后选择了自暴自弃。儿子的沉沦让文森特倍加愧疚和心疼，他不得不再次看到自己的至亲走上法庭面对裁决，作为一个父亲，他想竭力维护自己唯一的儿子，而作为一名警探，他又必须忠于自己的职责，在这样进退两难的境地中，文森特要如何选择New York City homicide detective Vincent LaMarca has forged a long and distinguished career in law enforcement, making a name for himself as a man intensely committed to his work. But on his latest case, the stakes are higher for Vincent--the suspect hes investigating is his own son. He and Joey have been painfully estranged ever since Vincent divorced his wife and left the decaying boardwalks of Long Beach, Long Island for the anonymity of Manhattan and a successful career with the NYPD. He lives his life in solitude, keeping his girlfriend at arms length; the closest relationship he maintains is with his partner, Reg--and Vincent makes sure that stops at the precinct door. As long as Vincent lives in the protection of the present, he doesnt have to deal with the pain of his past--or his sorrow over his broken relationship with Joey. But this murder investigation is drawing Vincent home to Long Beach, the self-proclaimed City by the Sea, where the past has been waiting for him to return. The agonizing memory that has tortured him all his life--the death of his father, a convicted murderer who was executed when Vincent was just a boy--still plagues him. In the course of the investigation, he discovers that his own unresolved pain and failures as a father have deeply influenced Joeys life, and now his 18-month-old grandson may be fated to follow their self-destructive paths.