Paul Kersey returns to New York City, having assumed the name Paul Stewart under the witness protection program. He is invited by girlfriend Olivia Regent to a fashion show. At the backstage, mobster Tommy O'Shea and his goons muscle in. Tommy threatens Olivia, who is his ex-wife and mother to their daughter, Chelsea. Olivia later informs Paul of her ex-husband's behavior after he finds bruises on her hand. Paul confronts him, but Tommy's henchman, Chicki Paconi pulls out a revolver at Paul. The confrontation ends with the arrival of Chelsea.
D.A. Brian Hoyle and his associate NYPD detective Lt. Hector Vasquez visit Paul's home. He informs them about Tommy O'Shea. Hoyle says they have been trying to nab Tommy for years, and he wants Olivia to testify. That night at a restaurant, Paul proposes to Olivia, who accepts. Olivia excuses herself to the bathroom and is attacked by Tommy's associate, Freddie "Flakes" Garrity, who bashes her head on a mirror, disfiguring her face. Freddie escapes, although Paul gets a look at him. At the hospital, Paul is told that even if Olivia will get reconstructive surgery, her face will never be the same. While there, he meets Lt. Mickey King and his partner Janice Omori, who are working on the O'Shea's case. During a failed bugging mission on the mob, both Albert and Janice are killed after getting struck by Freddie's car. Then at the hospital, Lt. King warns Kersey not to go back to his old ways, before saying that he has been working on the case for 16 years. Kersey says that is a long time to be failing. Freddie and his henchmen, pretending to be the cops sent to protect Olivia, attack Paul and Olivia at her apartment. Freddie shoots Olivia in the back, killing her as the couple tries to escape. Paul jumps from the roof of his apartment, where he lands in a pile of trash bags, and is retrieved by the police. Tommy is cleared of involvement in Olivia's death and seeks custody of their daughter. Paul assaults Tommy, who leaves him unconscious.
Paul plans to return to his vigilante methods and is assisted by Hoyle, who learns his department has been corrupted by Tommy. Paul poisons Chicki with a sugar-looking cyanide in his cannoli. He then kills Freddie by blowing the hood up with a remote-controlled soccer ball. Tommy finds out from an informant that Paul is the vigilante and will be going after him for killing Olivia. The informant, revealed to be Vasquez, tries to kill Paul himself, but Paul gets the upper hand and kills him. Hoyle arrives and finds out Tommy wants both him and Paul dead. Hoyle tells Paul he must never see him again, and Paul agrees. Using Chelsea as a bait, Tommy puts his 3 henchmen named Frankie, Mickey and Angel to go wait till Paul arrives and kill him. Paul tricks the henchmen by rampaging through the dress factory on a forklift. The henchmen manage to destroy the forklift, but it turns out to be a bait as Paul walks behind them and shoots Angel's shotgun away from his hands, but shoots both Frankie and Mickey dead. After he makes Angel tell him where Chelsea is, he wraps Angel in plastic wrapper. After Chelsea makes a getaway, Sal and Tommy try to capture her, but Tommy sends Sal after Paul.
While searching for Paul, Sal accidentally shoots Angel to death (mistaking him as Paul) and after finding him, he gets killed by Paul after shooting him into an industrial sewing machine, crushing him whole. Paul picks up an empty bottle, smashes it and after finding Tommy, he cuts his face in retaliation for what he did to Olivia. Lt. King then arrives, but is wounded by Tommy. Armed with Angel's shotgun, Paul corners Tommy and knocks him into an acid pool, where he disintegrates. King thanks him for saving his life. Paul goes to rejoin Chelsea, calling out to the injured King, "Hey Lieutenant, if you need any help, give me a call". The film ends with a freeze-frame of him walking.
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