This article is a highly-detailed plot summary of Taken.
The opening shot is of a birthday party with Kim (Maggie Grace) when she was five and her mother, Lenore (Famke Janssen.) They both look happy, it’s a grainy old video feed. Fades to black and Bryan, Kim’s father (Liam Neeson), wakes up in a chair and has a picture of his daughter in his hands. He puts it to the side and looks at a newspaper advertisement.
Bryan is driving his car down the street and stops at a small electronic shop and the storekeeper there tries to sell him the karaoke machine he’s been looking at for weeks/months. Bryan finally buys it and very carefully wraps it with some bright, childish looking birthday paper.
Bryan gets out of his car in front of a huge mansion. Fancily dressed people are walking through the huge yard lined with tents for the party and fountains. Bryan winds his way through the pathways and is stopped by a security guard near a tent with presents. The man tells Bryan that he needs to leave the present at the table, but Bryan remarks that he’s the Kim’s father, real father.
Before things get out of hand, Lenore comes up and talks to Bryan, telling him that he should respect the rules and Bryan caustically replies that he’s going to be with his daughter on her birthday. Lenore tries to get him to leave his present on the table with the other ones, but Kim sees him from the party and runs over, giving him a big hug. She unwraps the present, much to her mother’s dismay, and is delighted over it. Lenore is confused at the choice of gift and Bryan says that Kim wants to be a singer. Lenore returns that Kim wanted to be a singer when she was five, not now. When Kim gives her father another hug, she whispers to him that she still wants to be a singer and Bryan snaps a shot of her holding the karaoke machine.
Kim then turns and sees Stuart (Xander Berkeley), Lenore’s husband, bringing out a large, thoroughbred-looking horse. Kim squeals, sets down the karaoke machine and goes to hug Stuart and get on the horse, riding it around the party area. Bryan looks on in dismay, being woefully outspent. Stuart then comes over and says hello to Bryan and takes Lenore away, they obviously care for each other and Stuart cares for Kim as well. End shot with Bryan alone with the small karaoke machine, still in its box, at his feet.
At a pharmacy, Bryan is developing the photos he took of Kim and then back home, puts the photo in an album he’s keeping of her birthday photos. He then flips through it, seeing how she grew up year by year.
The doorbell rings and three of his friends are there with food and beer. Bryan looks at them with disconcertment and they remind him it was his turn for steaks. He sighs and lets them in.
Bryan is outside, cooking the steaks and the four men are talking about all their exploits when they worked for the CIA. (It’s not described, but several mentions of Langley.) They obviously were ‘hardcore’ agents and went on many dangerous missions throughout the years. Bryan reminds them that it’s Kim’s 17th birthday and another story gets brought up about how Bryan left in the middle of a mission to attend her birthday. They ask if he had any regrets about leaving and he says he made the right decision to leave that line of work to be closer to Kim. One man finally tells him that he should get back into the business, she’s going to be going to college and he’ll lose her then. As they all leave, Bryan finally agrees to do a short security gig for a singer with them.
The four men are providing personal security to the singer and come into the building, closely guarding her. She signs autographs and they move her quickly away, taking their duties seriously. Bryan is assigned to be inside the makeup room with her.
She is stretching her voice with a coach and people are primping her. Bryan comments that she sounds wonderful and introduces himself. A person barges in, telling her ‘she’s on’ and she starts to go out when Bryan asks advice about one goes about becoming a singer, as his daughter wants to be one. She looks at him with a measure of disdain and tells him that she shouldn’t become one.
The guys are all playing cards as she’s doing her gig and Bryan gets a call from Kim, asking him to lunch the next day and very impressed that he was at the pop star’s concert. Bryan is pleased that Kim wants to spend some time with him and tells the guys who are happy for him. The diva comes down the stairs after the concert with security all around her. Suddenly, a gate breaks and hoards of fans start trampling through towards her. Bryan grabs her shoulders and they start running towards the cars around the corner when a man with a knife jumps towards her. Bryan quickly, brutally and efficiently disables (perhaps kills) the man before he could stab her and they get into the car. She breaks down and Bryan holds her.
The men are outside her hotel room, divvying up the cash and telling Bryan that he has all his old skills intact. The diva sends word that she wants to see Bryan. She has just taken a shower and looks subdued. She tells Bryan that the singer’s life isn’t what people think, a lot of hotel rooms and traveling, but gives him a card with her voice coach’s name on it, saying that if his daughter has talent, that guy can help make it even better. She goes on to say that when the coach decides she’s ready, she’ll introduce his daughter to her manager and she’ll pay for all the lessons, it’s the least she could do. Bryan expresses his gratitude.
At lunch the next day, Bryan is delighted to see Kim, but less than delighted to see Lenore, who decided to accompany her. Kim wants to go overseas with her friend Amanda and stay in Paris with some of Amanda’s cousins. Bryan is not hot on the idea, but they need both parents to sign off since she’s a minor. Kim leaves in tears before he could show her the card and the voice lessons. Lenore berates Bryan, telling him that he has problems and brings up their old life together when she never had any idea where he was or what he was doing. Lenore leaves as well – Bryan just sits at the table staring at the form.
Bryan rings the doorbell and Kim comes down and gets the signed parental release form, squealing in happiness. Bryan lays down some rules, handing her a cell phone. She needs to call him when she lands and every day thereafter and he get to drive her to the airport. She agrees and Lenore is obviously pleased that Bryan has let her go.
In his car they talk about her being safe and then about his job. Kim says that whenever she asked about Bryan’s job to her mother, Lenore always said to talk to him. Bryan asks her why she never asked him and she said that she didn’t want to know if it was anything bad. Bryan said that he was a preventer, he prevented things from happening. Kim asks him if it was a good job, and he says yes. She then asks him if he misses it, he said that he missed her more.
As she goes to see Amanda at the airport, he gets her luggage and sees a map of Europe with a bunch of dates circled in various countries. He asks Lenore, who had been following them with Stuart to see Kim off, if she knew about this, and she says yes. They’re following a band and Stuart bought them all tickets. Bryan is shocked and displeased, but Lenore says that Kim needs to learn about the world, and the only way to do that is to go out in it. He finally relents and gives Kim her luggage, taking her photo and watching them go into the secure part of the airport, waving happily at him.
They arrive in Paris and wander through the terminal and go outside. They start taking pictures of each other with their cell phones and a young man comes up, introducing himself as Peter. He takes their picture and then says that cabs are very expensive, and would they want to share one. Both girls agree and they drive off in a cab.
Bryan is getting his photos developed and smiles, giving a call to the airline to see when the plane landed. He frowns as he finds out that it has already landed and he received no call from Kim.
The girls and Peter are getting out of the car and Peter asks them if this is where they are staying. Amanda says yes and says that they’ll be by themselves since her cousins are out of town – Kim looks shocked because she thought that they were supposed to be there. Amanda says that they have the whole 5th floor as an apartment and Peter invites them to a party at the university before he walks away and makes a phone call, giving the girl’s location and how many and how old they appear.
When they get upstairs, they both dump their luggage and have a bit of fun, but Kim is worried because she told her dad that adults would be there and they weren’t. Amanda tells Kim to stop worrying and jumps on the couch, playing loud music and telling Kim that she has to get rid of her virginity sometime, maybe with Peter, he was cute. Kim doesn’t appear enthralled with that prospect.
Bryan is calling Kim over and over from his home, obviously getting more and more agitated. He called Lenore who tells him to deal with it and that they’re in Paris and having fun.
Kim finds her phone and sees the missed calls from her father and goes to the other side of the apartment where the music isn’t as loud to call him back. Bryan is obviously relieved and Kim expresses her doubts about the apartment situation as the cousins are gone. Suddenly, Kim sees three men come in and grab Amanda, she is frantically asking her father for help. Bryan calmly asks her where she is and tells her to go to the next room. She does, and then he tells her to get under the bed. After Kim does that, Bryan tells her that this will be the hard part, she is going to have to let them take her. When she does, she needs to yell out everything that she can see about them after leaving the phone under the bed. Anything to help identify them. Meanwhile he has set up a recorder on his cell phone and is taping the whole conversation.
Men come in looking for her, but then pass by after two of them have a talk in a strange language. Kim thought that they had passed, but then the third drags her off, she screams various things and then the phone is picked up by a person. Bryan says that he has no money, but a special set of skills that make him a terror to people like them. He says if they let his daughter go, he’ll forget about everything, if not, he’ll kill them all. The voice on the other end says, “Good luck” and then the phone goes dead.
Bryan is in the car, calling his friends and giving them the taped information so that they can translate it.
He gets to Lenore and Stuart’s house and immediately goes upstairs, asking Stuart if any of his shady business dealings that he had found out about when researching him would have done this. Stuart is surprised and indignant, but says no. Bryan tells them that Kim has been taken and Lenore starts crying. When Bryan searches Kim’s room, Stuart asks if there is anything that he can do and Bryan tells him he can get him a plane to Paris an hour ago. Lenore asks Bryan to please get Kim back, but Bryan replies that he needs to find her first. As he is searching through Kim’s room his friend calls him back. They were speaking Albian and that the leader’s name was Marco. He is a ‘big fish’ and deals in trafficking women as prostitutes and moved into Paris a while back. He then says that Bryan has a 96 hour window to finding Kim from when she was first grabbed, or he’ll likely never see her again. Lenore is frantic while Bryan remains angrily calm.
Bryan is on the private plane and listens to the tape of her abduction and the phone call, hearing the “Good luck” a few times.
He lands and piggybacks into the apartment complex, going to the floor, but finding the door locked. He climbs outside and shimmies along a thin ledge, getting into the apartment by smashing a window. He then relives the whole abduction through his eyes and then through his daughter’s. Byran finds the smashed phone on the floor and picks it up, seeing the untouched memory card and takes it.
At a kiosk he puts in the memory card and views the photos. In the one where Peter took it, he zooms in and sees Peter’s reflection in glass near the girls.
Peter and a large black man are scoping out the airport again and Peter uses the same trick to pick up another woman. However, Bryan starts beating him and Peter runs as the black man pulls Bryan out and they fight. Bryan displays some impressive fighting skills and quickly disposes of the man and runs after Peter. After a long chase, Peter makes a daring jump off a bridge and lands safely, looking back at Bryan a second before a truck smooshes Peter into nothing.
A man comes out of a French police station, obviously a policeman, detective or something more. He walks by a café where Bryan is sitting and Bryan follows him. They discuss the situation and the man, Jean Claude (Olivier Rabourdin) have a discussion showing that they have known each other. They talk about Jean being behind a desk and Bryan being retired until his daughter got kidnapped. Jean is upset that Bryan got the spotter killed – he asks him not to tear down Paris, but Bryan says that he will tear down the Effiel Tower to get his daughter back. He asks Jean about the Albanians and Jean says there are tons of them, and they are dangerous. He gives him a starting point and Bryan walks away after getting that information. Jean then calls in a tail on Bryan.
Bryan goes to the street where a man meets him who does translating. Bryan tells the man to stay in the car and goes to talk to a prostitute, haggling her until the pimp comes and shoves him against a wall, extorting some money out of him which Bryan pays while slipping a bug under the pimp’s collar. He then goes back to the car and the translator listens and does some translation, not knowing what it’s all about. The translator then tells Bryan that they are talking about being at the construction site, fresh merchandise giving problems. Bryan pushes the translator out of the car and zooms away.
Bryan stands in a line where men are paying and then getting little cards with numbers on them. He goes in and sees stall after stall of women in tiny rooms hidden by curtains with numbers on each one, his number gave him a drugged look (track marks on the arms as well) and beckoned to him. He leaves and flips open each curtain, seeing girl after girl with a man, but no Kim. Finally, at one he sees her jacket lying on the floor, but it’s a different girl. He beats up the john with her and asks her where she got the jacket, but she’s too drugged to tell him. A guard comes in and they have a fistfight with Bryan brutally beating three guards before getting one of their guns and gunning down some more. Some of the girls die when the guards shoot them if they’re in front of Bryan.
He takes the girl out with the jacket and put her in his car, being chased by a group of Albanians. They shoot up the car, but he manages to speed away, but is followed by three trucks. He runs into several drums of gasoline and causes a large explosion that gives him some time. He rolls one car with his car down a dirt hell, another one he drives into a lightpost and quick driving causes one vehicle to get torn apart by a bulldozer (ripping off the top, and the people inside presumably.) He then tears through a small construction shed before making his getaway.
Jean is talking with people who say that the man has caused a mess and needs to get out.
Bryan recognizes that he’s being tailed and loses the tail. He goes to a hotel where the front desk knows him and gets a room for himself and the girl after hotwiring another car to further lose any tails. He sets up a rudimentary IV drip and gives her some other injections to try to counteract the drugs. He’s tired and tries to sleep (been up for about 24-30 hours now) when Jean calls him, saying they need to talk.
Jean is sitting in a park when Bryan calls him back. Jean says that Bryan’s disregard for everything legal has led to problems and he is to go back to the United States that day. Bryan says he won’t be leaving. Meanwhile, the police are triangulating on the cell phone and their SWAT looking people are moving in. When they find the phone, it’s just set next to a two way radio that is relaying from another position, no Bryan nearby, but he’s checking everything out via binoculars. He makes his escape and Jean looks around, wondering where Bryan was.
At the hotel room Bryan is copying something from an Albanian dictionary and the girl wakes up, frantic and pulling on the IV, but Bryan calms her down and asks where she got the jacket. She says she got it from a nice girl. Bryan says that that is his daughter and asks where they were. She tells him what street and the colour of the door (she remembers this through flashbacks when she was taken.)
He goes into the area and introduces himself as Jean Claude, giving them the business card that he got from his former friend when they first met. They lead him up into a kitchen where the Albanians are seated around a table. He pretends to negotiate a ‘new rate’ for police protection/silence and they give him some money after some wrangling. He sees a tattoo on a man’s hand that is similar to the one that Kim screamed out and as they’re talking, one man says, “Good Luck.” It’s the same voice from the tape.
Bryan looks around, scoping out the men and asks the man if he recognizes him, the man doesn’t. Bryan then starts beating and shooting the entire place up, only stunning the man who helped kidnap his daughter, but killing everyone else either with his fists or the guns he takes off of their bodies. After all the Albanians upstairs and downstairs are dead, he starts looking through the rooms. More girls tied to beds, drugged. He finds Amanda, she’s dead with vomit on her face, a needle and bloody cotton swab at the side of the bed where someone gave her too much. No Kim.
He ties the man he stunned down to a chair and takes two large construction nails and rams them into the man’s thighs. He then puts battery cable clips onto the nails, asking the man where his daughter is. The man spits in his face. Bryan attaches the ends to a light switch and turns it on, the man convulses in pain. Bryan asks again, the man spits in his face again and Bryan leaves the switch on longer this time. Finally, he makes it clear that he will just kill him if the man doesn’t talk and the man finally says she was sold to “Saint Claire” (Gerard Watkins) because she was a virgin, after verifying that that is the name of a person, Bryan walks out, flipping on the switch and letting the man scream in pain and shock as he leaves the building.
Jean comes back to his house to find Bryan there with his wife, sitting down to the dinner table. Jean goes to the bathroom to get a hidden gun. They obviously all know each other. As they eat, Bryan accuses him of helping the Albanians and Jean says that he gets a kickback, he needs the money. Jean pulls the gun on Bryan, but there are no bullets, Bryan took them out and accuses Jean of getting rusty as he couldn’t tell the difference between a loaded gun or empty. Bryan then shoots Jean’s wife. He tells Jean it’s a flesh wound, but next he will kill her if Jean doesn’t help. Jean looks up the information for Saint Claire and Bryan smacks him over the head to render him unconscious before leaving.
Bryan gets into the party Saint Claire is holding in his estate by presenting Jean’s ID with his picture on it. He walks in and finds Saint Claire going into a special elevator. He kills the guard and goes down the elevator. Looking around, he sees that there are all small rooms with men bidding on the girls being shown on stage. A waiter comes and he kills the waiter, taking the champagne and going into the booth where an Arab is bidding on a woman and serves him champagne. The light is very dim.
Kim is the last one shown, a specialty. Bryan pulls a gun on the man and makes him win the bid. As he escorts the man out of the booth, a goon hits Bryan over the top of the head, making him pass out.
Bryan wakes up, his hands chained to a water pipe above him and Saint Claire asking who he is. Bryan says that he’s Kim’s father and Saint Claire says it’s all business and tells his men to kill him quietly as he leaves. Bryan rips the pipe down, spraying the men with hot steam and proceeds to kill them all, including the guard that Saint Claire sent down to see what was making so much noise.
After Bryan has killed all the men, he goes and finds Saint Clair in the elevator and shoots him in the arm, asking where his daughter is. Then he shoots him in the other arm, and then in the leg. The man says she’s at a pier on a boat. Saint Clair says it’s just business and Bryan empties the clip into his body before stalking out.
At the pier, Bryan sees Kim getting loaded onto the boat and the large yacht sail away down the river. He gets into his car and starts gunning it, trying to catch up. After some crazy driving, he gets to a bridge, just in time to jump onto the yacht.
Bryan then goes through, killing the guards, even though he hurt his leg jumping from the bridge. The man he forced to buy Kim in the booth is the main flunky and goes to find Bryan to protect the sheik who wanted the girls. After many deaths, that man pulls out a wicked, curved knife and Bryan, who has run out of bullets, fights him in a prolonged sequence that shatters much glass, causes much slicing of the flesh and ends with Bryan killing the guard.
Bryan then enters the bedroom where the sheik is holding a large knife to Kim’s throat. He says that they can negotiate, but Bryan ends that conversation with one bullet to the brain. Kim stares at her father in shock and then runs to hug him and express her tearful joy at him coming for her.
They’re coming through the gates back home and Kim runs to hug her mother and stepfather. Lenore thanks Bryan and gives him a long hug. Stuart is friendlier to Bryan and offers him a ride home, but Bryan refuses.
Ending shot of Kim and Bryan standing outside a door. The singer/diva from the beginning answers it with her coach in the background near a piano. She looks at Kim and asks if she wants to be a singer and Kim nods, going in and looking back at her father thankfully.