[dropcap size=big]I[/dropcap]n an unnamed foreign country, the Driver drives a wounded man who carries a mysterious briefcase, while under helicopter attack. During the attack the briefcase is struck by a bullet, causing a display on it to begin counting down, and it to leak an unknown grey fluid from the bullet hole. The Driver manages to cause the helicopter to crash, but refuses to proceed without knowing the contents of the damaged briefcase. It is revealed that the man guards a human heart for transplant to a statesman (shown in military uniform), whose life and peacemaking is needed for the continued freedom of the country’s people. The case is delivered by the Driver in time for the surgery. Also present are another military officer whom the passenger had said would take over the country with tyranny if his superior died (and whose uniform matches the soldiers who had tried to intercept the heart), and US agents who ensure that he does not interfere with the surgery, and so is forced to give up his attempt to take the country by force – Ticker.
In 1998 he won some cult and critical acclaim for his film Blood, Guts, Bullets and Octane which premiered in September 1997 at the New York Independent Feature Film Market and later at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival.
He directed the 2002 Detroit-set thriller Narc, starring Ray Liotta and Jason Patric. Following Narc, he directed an entry in the BMW Films titled Ticker starring Clive Owen and Don Cheadle. At one point he was solicited to direct Mission: Impossible III, produced by Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner (who also executive produced Narc), however he subsequently left the production due to conflicting views on the tone of the film. It was also announced in October 2005 Carnahan would be directing a film based on the life of convicted drug dealer Will Wright, but the project seems to be abandoned.
His next film, Smokin' Aces, was produced in 2006 and released in January 2007. He also co-wrote the screenplay of Pride and Glory, released in 2008 nearly a year behind schedule.
He is also attached to direct an adaptation of James Ellroy's novel White Jazz with George Clooney producing and starring, but Clooney later pulled out from the production. He was also set to direct Mark Bowden's book Killing Pablo, but there is no set release date for the film. Most recently, Carnahan penned Remarkable Fellows for Universal and is writing the action science fiction piece Cobalt with good friend and actor Brian Bloom. Both Bloom and Carnahan were then hired by Fox for the revamping of their long-gestating A-Teamproject, based on the hit '80's television series. Carnahan directed the film. He directed the 2012 thriller The Grey, starring Liam Neeson. He may direct the film adaption of theGarth Ennis graphic novel Preacher. He is currently writing the script for the film adaptation of the Mark Millar comic book series Nemesis with his brother Matthew and Joe will be directing.