John Langer (John Hurt), a crusty old civil engineer, has an arsenal full of memories. With irreverent wit, he rattles on, in his humorous style, burning his spicy stories into the imagination of a young neighbor kid, Danny Himes (Gregory Smith). Danny is a gifted, spirited athlete with something to prove. Worldly, old man Langer has turned his back on proving anything at all.
Old man Langer and Danny seem an unlikely pair. Their relationship turns from young caregiver/caretaker to student/mentor to comrades on a quest to free themselves from life's inequities and inevitabilities. Danny's father, Earl (David Strathairn), who did not serve in World War II, is considered a coward.
Danny excels to overcome his father's reputation, but Earl is actually more of a man than the town knows. This is the story of A Hero's Climb.