In one of the scenes, Phil returns to Russia and meets with his biker friends in Moscow. As a present from them Phil receives an old BMW 3 sport series, which helps him escape and saves his life in a breathtaking car chase later in a story.
The deputy customs director for the largest airport in the Russian Federation is a man who is quite modern and in step with the times. Around forty, he is athletically built and is popular with women. And for good reason: he's tall, with an open expression and a beguiling baritone. He has surrounded himself with choice personal effects - a gold cigarette lighter, imported cigarettes, an antique desk set and tailored suits. Sitting across from him is none other than Natasha, showing off her deep California tan. Natasha closes a well-thumbed magazine and passes it to her boss. This is not the first time the new synthetic drug has been discussed in the press. But Natasha believes that Phil had something to do with this latest story. And she's not far from the truth: Phil had gone to his contacts in the press to plant a provocative rumor about the new drug. Natasha breaks into laughter. She tells her boss she had run into Phil quite by accident. It is the sort of accident that changes the best laid plans and transforms lives.
Phil, a Russian man who left his native country a long time ago, has surrounded himself with odious personages. In his circle are the fabulously wealthy nouveau riches, the art crowd, new age healers, scandalous women. At first glance, this is a fun, carefree crowd. But on closer look all is not as innocent as it may seem. Any numbers of Phil’s acquaintances are in trouble with the law. There are drug dealers here, and smugglers, and those ready to pump serious cash into a risky business venture.
It is natural then that someone like Phil with his contacts would attract the attention of both the FBI and of the Russian intelligence service. Today these two former enemies have become collaborators. Their business: drugs, international terrorism, etc...
Sent by FBI's deputy director, Jackson, to Russia to study the underworld at close range, Martin heads to a lively nightclub to strike up a relationship with Alevtina, a sultry young woman who navigates restaurants and discotheques popular with foreigners and the rich and the powerful, selling drugs, and keeping the police well paid off. When Martin asks her if she is an escort, she tells him that her business is drugs. Police leave her alone because they too need her product and the pay-off for protection.
Meanwhile, conference call, devoted to the illicit drug trafficking, is taking place between a high placed Russian official, General Sokolov and FBI agent, Jackson. Sokolov shocks his colleague when he suggests that the first tests of the new drug will take place in America. Hip new clubs, discos, even schools and playgrounds will become breeding grounds for the spread of this popular, trendy drug.
Meeting Natasha opens up a world of possibilities for Phil. Accustomed to acting with great caution, Phil runs a through background check on Natasha to determine if she would be useful for his purposes. Nor does he want to see her get hurt. As they become acquainted, a bond is created between them on a personal level. As Natasha heads back to Moscow, the two of them make plans to meet again.
When it's Phil's turn to go to Moscow, it is Natasha who "accidentally" turns up at the customs counter. Phil places his suitcase before her and she stamps his documents. Phil tells her that he did not come alone. Behind him, he says, is his accomplice, a temperamental, artistic, highly nervous personality. Phil wants Natasha to be nice to the man and she complies, letting through without a glitch. The man passes through and walks off, ignoring Phil. We realize that the two of them are perfect strangers. The whole set up was meant as a test for Natasha.
The interaction between Phil and Natasha becomes less and less formal. They attend the theater and the circus with Natasha's young son. Natasha's boss becomes concerned about her, both personally and professionally. She may be getting in too deep. Because of this, Natasha begins to worry about Phil. She faces a choice: to warn Phil about the consequences of her boss's jealousy or to quit her job with the customs office. She ponders her options, becoming increasingly worried. In a candid, unguarded moment, she tells Phil that she wants him to choose for her. But Phil feels that his hand is being forced and not one to let others decide things for him, he goes off on a business trip, a keen sense of loss haunting him all the while.
Despite Phil's departure, Natasha's boss decides to sideline her for the time-being and keep her away from active duty: he is still smarting about her affair with Phil, convinced that she had gone too far. At his insistence she is hospitalized, having convinced him that she is pregnant. Whether she is or isn't pregnant is not yet clear.
As suspected, Phil is connected with the manufacture of the synthetic drug. As far as his associates and acquaintances are concerned, a staff of scientists working under Phil is close to completing the process of synthesizing the wonder drug. Phil begins to develop and put into action a complex, wide-reaching plan which will bring a number of covert international smuggling operations within view of the intelligence agencies. At the root of his plan is a well-disguised bluff: Phil manages to convince his chosen peers that the new drug, obtained in the lab under the supervision of his scientists, is ready to be put on the market. This will have a drastic effect on the drug dealers who traffic in traditional illicit substances like coke and heroin. They will need to change their focus and open up new spheres of influence. And in the process a number of key drug trafficking avenues will lose their secrecy and come into the light in the process.
This is of great interest to the intelligence agencies. And the criminal organizations attempt to come up with ways to combat this unwelcome intrusion into their business. In Central Asia Russian and American intelligence agencies have long kept an eye on the drug trade. Things take a dramatic turn when a key customs official is discovered at the top of the criminal food chain. Suddenly we learn that the crooked customs general and Natasha's boss are not only colleagues but also old friends. But this friendship has a double meaning. At a meeting at a health spa outside Moscow, they attempt to resolve "key" issues. But they fail to reach an agreement. The following day, Natasha's boss learns that an attempt has taken place on her life. The thugs were not trying to hurt her but only meant to scare the hell out of her. Fortunately, Natasha's son, Tyoma, is spared the knowledge of the attack on his mother.
The list of accomplishment tallied by Natasha's boss over the years is unquestionably impressive: countless times he prevented the large-scale smuggling of jewels and precious metals out of the country. And in the process, he'd received numerous awards and commendations from the government. But none of these matters in the face of a single, small concession he'd made years ago, a tiny violation of duty that has implicated him since. (We see the fateful incident, in flashback, as it took place in the late 70s.)
In keeping with the drug dealers' plans, Phil has to carry the goods through customs. The goods he's carrying have no particular value but someone has to rat him out. Your new friend is trying to get something past customs, Natasha's boss would tell her, and it's your job to stop him, understood? Phil is quite happy to be detained at customs since his plan to take the new drug to the market does not involve handing the goods directly to the drug barons waiting for him on the other side of the customs inspection post. Natasha, still in love with Phil, decides to let him through, in direct violation of her boss's orders. Now Phil has no choice but to face his own demise. "Mr. Makowsky arriving from San Francisco," a polite voice would say over the airport PA system, "your party is waiting for you at the car rental depot." Phil understands that he cannot avoid the encounter. His desperate tactics fail to extricate him from his predicament: bundles of loose currency, a hint about a gun in his briefcase, fail to suede the authorities into detaining him. His documents are stamped, his passport returned to him. Now he has to go.
Beyond the inspection point, Phil walks into a trap and is immediately surrounded. There is no escape. The announcement over the PA system is heard for the third time, "...you are expected at the car rental depot." Phil proceeds there, together with his new entourage. Soon he is among loud-voiced, pushy taxi drivers and limo chauffeurs, trying to drum up business. Phil's entourage is thrown into confusion. Suddenly there are more and more cabbies and in the ensuing pandemonium, the thugs tailing Phil find themselves wearing handcuffs. Someone behind Phil puts his hand on his shoulder. Phil turns coming face to face with an old friend and colleague from his days with the agency in the service of the motherland. Just then, intelligence operatives detain an exotic looking Indian who had nearly slipped unnoticed through customs. Natasha's boss had kept a close eye on him from inside the terminal. He turns and discovers that a group of agents separates from the main contingent and heads toward in his direction. At that point he understands that they're coming for him. General Sokolov offers Phil his flask. "Vodka?" asks Phil. "Whisky," replies Sokolov. The airport PA sounds the final note of the story, "Passenger Makowsky, arriving from San Francisco, your party is waiting for you..."