En pige i teenagealderen er forsvundet. Krigsveteranen Joe (Joaquin Phoenix) har derfor påtaget sig opgaven at opspore hende i dette spændende drama ”You Were Never Really Here”. Opsporingsarbejdet fører ham på en dyster og mørk sti i en underverden af korruption og vold. Bag dramaet står prisvindende instruktør Lynne Ramsay, der også står bag filmen ”We Need to Talk About Kevin”.
Joe (Joaquin Phoenix) is a traumatized war veteran and former FBI agent who takes it as his life mission to track down missing girls and bring them back to their families. Whenever necessary, Joe uses violence and could be even brutal. After successfully completing a job, Joe receives a generous offer from the New York State Senator, Albert Votto, to rescue his abducted daughter, Nina. The Senator sends the address of brothel for wealthy patrons in an anonymous message to the veteran. Joe manages to recover Nina and takes her to a motel while waiting to return her to Votto. Surprisingly, the local news report that the Senator has committed a suicide.