Taken

Inciting Event: Ex-CIA agent Bryan learns the estranged seventeen-year-old daughter with whom he’s trying to re-build a relationship wants his permission to go to Paris for the summer. This is the event that will start off the story’s main conflict. It’s also a great example of how the first eighth of the story is all about building the personal stakes and introducing the characters. Then we have this great Call to Adventure—which is soundly and adamantly rejected by the protagonist. He is “uncomfortable” with the idea of “putting his daughter at risk” by allowing her to travel Europe with a friend—but he is eventually shamed into it by his ex-wife.

First Plot Point: Kim, the daughter, arrives in Paris and is kidnapped by Albanian sex slavers while on the phone with Bryan. This is where everything changes. Bryan’s Normal World (as a father with a daughter who is safe) is destroyed. Now he must enter a dark new world where he has only ninety-six hours to find his daughter before she is lost forever to a world of drugs and prostitution.

First Pinch Point: Bryan finds a picture of the handsome Parisian “spotter” who first lured the girls into the trap. He attacks the man, demanding answers, then chases him down the highway—only to watch as the spotter is killed by a semi. He both gains new clues here and feels the pinch of the hopelessness of his situation when he loses his new lead.

Midpoint: Bryan infiltrates the place where the Albanians keep their new girls. He discovers a drugged-up girl wearing Kim’s coat, and he makes a mess of the place while escaping with her. Not only is this a big scene and an action setpiece (as is always appropriate in a story of this genre), it also provides him with the new information he needs to close in on Kim and her captors.

Second Pinch Point: Bryan finds Kim’s friend Amanda—dead—and the Albanians who took Kim. While torturing the last surviving Albanian, he learns Kim has been sold to a French official. This provides a new “pinch” from the antagonistic force, offers new clues to turn the plot, and hammers home the stakes in preparation for the Third Plot Point.

Third Plot Point: Bryan discovers Kim just as she is being sold to a sheikh in a posh underground auction—but he is captured and his execution is ordered. This is a great low point (not only is he going to die, but he’s going to fail Kim just when he was so close to finding her), but the movie doesn’t give it enough time to really take advantage of showing the massive low point to which it should have forced Bryan.

Climax: After escaping, Bryan goes after the boat that’s taking Kim away. He attacks the sheikh’s men.

Climactic Moment: Bryan kills the sheikh and rescues Kim.

Resolution: Bryan takes Kim home, then introduces her to a singer he met at the beginning of the movie while on a bodyguard job.

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