Ireland, 1892, and Joseph Donelly's father is shot while protesting high rents. Young Joseph (Tom Cruise) is determined to take his revenge and sets out to kill the local landlord, only to have his plan foiled when he is caught by the landlord's daughter Shannon (Nicole Kidman). She is preparing to run away to America and Joseph, who knows an opportunity when he sees one, decides to tag along as her servant. When the pair arrive in the New World, Shannon experiences a poverty she never knew existed, and Joseph attempts to make his fortune by getting involved in the world of bare-knuckle boxing. Things are not going well for either of them, but the chance of better future still beckons, and they head out west, aiming to stake their claim in the wide open spaces of Oklahoma.