Small-time crook Mickey Rourke is mockingly named Johnny Handsome because of his grotesquely deformed face. While in stir on a robbery rap, Rourke is knifed by convicts in the employ of his former partner--and now bitter enemy--Lance Henriksen. While in the prison hospital, Rourke is cared for by a kindly doctor (Forrest Whitaker), who believes that the key to Rourke's rehabilitation might be a literal change of face. Undergoing plastic surgery, Rourke emerges as virtually unrecognizable to everyone but the audience. Paroled, Rourke seems to be willing to follow a straight and narrow path. Seems to be. Only Morgan Freeman, playing a hard-bitten law officer, sees through Rourke's "new leaf."
by Hal Erickson synopsis