When petty thief Cosimo (LUIS GUZMÁN) is given the plan for the perfect heist from a lifer in prison – the kind of job you dream about, the kind of job that the reprobates on the block refer to as a ‘Bellini’ – he has to get out of jail, fast. Opportunities like this don’t come along every day for the hard-luck folks who hang around the streets of Collinwood, a working class neighborhood on Cleveland’s east side. What Cosimo needs is a fall guy, a ‘Mullinski,’ somebody who needs the $15,000 Cosimo can offer more than they need one to three years of freedom. But with Cosimo stuck in the joint, it’s up to his girl Rosalind (PATRICIA CLARKSON) to track down a patsy.
But while no one wants to do the time for Cosimo’s crime, everybody seems to know a guy who will – and for a share in the Bellini, they’re willing to track him down. Before long, Rosalind has five guys trailing behind her, looking to get their bungling hands on a piece of the action.
Led by Pero (SAM ROCKWELL), a very amateur boxer who schemes to get the particulars of the job from Cosimo before leaving him in the joint to rot, the motley crew consists of photographer and frustrated artist Riley (WILLIAM H. MACY), a single father with an infant on his hands who needs a thousand bucks to spring his wife from jail; Leon (ISAIAH WASHINGTON), who desperately wants to secure a better life for his sister Michelle (GABRIELLE UNION); Basil (ANDREW DAVOLI), a handsome Italian gigolo who’s as broke as a one-wheeled wagon and Toto (MICHAEL JETER), a thief way past his prime who’s got nothing but time.
Relying on the dubiously expert advice of veteran safecracker Jerzy (GEORGE CLOONEY), the band of hapless lowlifes sets out to bag the Bellini.