Arkansas in 1880: Mattie Ross is a perky young girl with a good head on her shoulders, fearless, forthright and with a determined will. When her father is murdered and robbed by his hired hand, Tom Chaney, who escapes into Indian territory, Mattie aims for vengeance without waste of time. She hires the hard-bitten, whisky-drinking, one-eyed U.S. Marshal "Rooster" Cogburn to help her track down Chaney. And they are joined by a young and handsome lawman, Texas Ranger La Boeuf. He and Cogburn take an instant dislike to each other.