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A tormented computer geek in Palo Alto who killed in self-defense as a child tackles psychotherapy with a genius rookie shrink and faces a deadly showdown against his victim's vengeful brother.
Young Miguel Danko, 8, pranked in a Northern California forest, fights his tormentors, camp counselor Jim Stratford assaults him, Miguel fights back and wounds Jim with a machete. Seventeen years later, hunky tech-bro adult Miguel seeks psychotherapy in Palo Alto with beautiful rookie shrink Dr. Alicia Zheng.
Back in 1988, young Miguel and his folks take Jim Stratford to court in Stockton. Sentenced to prison, Jim attacks, his mom and young siblings Benjy and Laura watching. Young Miguel pulls a cop’s gun in self-defense and shoots Jim dead.
2005, Doctor Alicia listens, stunned, adult Miguel agrees to therapy. Hot mess Laura crashes the Stratford’s truck, killing their mom. At the funeral, lawyer Bart Otterbine, who failed to defend Jim in court, asks Benjy to his office to settle mom Juanita’s paltry estate.
Despite job problems, boozing Miguel finds Dr. Alicia’s analysis helpful. Benjy steals Miguel’s home address from Otterbine’s office. Miguel gets fired for cause. Benjy finds out Miguel’s family moved, forcibly obtains their new address, plans to kill Miguel. At Miguel and Alicia’s third session in Palo Alto, romance explodes. Newly-inspired, Miguel fixes up his car and video-game gear, the lovers plan a weekend camping. Benjy kills Miguel’s dad in Stockton, takes mom hostage.
Otterbine reports Benjy to the cops, they investigate the murder. The oblivious lovers head to Yosemite, Benjy eludes the cops on a parallel revenge-on-the-road journey. Cops find Miguel and Alicia. Benjy drives south toward Bakersfield;
at his word, sister Laura kills Otterbine and two others. At sheriff’s HQ, Miguel, crushed by loss, berates the cops, who search for Benjy and hostage Mom.
Miguel heads for the Death Valley showdown to sacrifice himself for Mom’s release, he buys a shotgun near Little Lake, drives east in Alicia’s car. Laura and Benjy wound Miguel, but with multiple weapons he kills the killers in a bloody showdown, releases Mom. EMT chopper flies wounded Miguel to the hospital, doctors save him. Mom’s relief outweighs her grief. Cops clean up the mess and decompress. Sunset at Paradise Cove, Miguel and Alicia celebrate victory.