Retired CIA agent Bryan Mills has always smothered his 17-year-old daughter Kim, hoping to protect her from the ills of the world. When he eventually bows to pressure from ex-wife Lenore and grants his daughter permission to visit Paris with best friend Amanda, all of Bryan's worst fears are confirmed. Albanian thugs break into the girls' city centre apartment midway through a telephone call to Kim and the doting father listens in horror as his little girl is dragged away to her doom. "I will look for you, I will find you and I will kill you!" Bryan promises one of the abductors, who picks up Kim's 'phone. "Good luck," replies the man menacingly.