An innocent young Amish widow (Kelly McGillis) takes her small son Samuel (Lucas Haas) on his first train trip to visit a relative in Baltimore. During a change of trains in Philadelphia, the boy goes to the bathroom and witnesses a brutal murder.
Unwittingly, these poor, simple people are plunged into a world of gruff and mean-spirited outsiders, subjected to their laws, and regarded as oddballs in a society that is ironically much screwier than they are.
Since the child is a material witness, he must be detained. The cop assigned to the case is Harrison Ford, who is bemused by these strange characters and sympathetic to their desire to get back to their horse and buggy, yet determined to do whatever he has to do to keep them as long as they can help solve the case.
The case turns heavy when the kid identifies the killer as a highly regarded narcotics agent. Worse still, Ford discovers that two other powerful law enforcers are part of the gang, and the leader is the head of the police department himself.
Wounded and half-dead, the big-city cop must enter the Amish world to hide out. The widow nurses him back to health with strange brews, teas, and home remedies, and the neighbours protect him in their sealed-off world without cars, electricity, TV, or telephones.
He learns how to raise a barn, milk cows before dawn, and discover the peace simplicity brings.
He also finds out about the prejudices and cruelties directed at these non-violent people by tourists and other outsiders, and in one effective scene, by defending his new friends against some local punks, he even breaks their laws and invites trouble from the police.
In a thrilling climax, when the villains arrive, the newly regenerated cop uses the farm and its alien environment to give the killers more than they bargained for.
Deputy Commissioner Schaeffer