"I don't know who you are. I don't know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don't have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you."
Adult Fear: On top of losing one's daughter metaphorically, she goes to a foreign country, is kidnapped by sex slavers and nearly vanishes forever.
The sequel has this turned on its own head as the father of the lead kidnapper (killed by electrocution) decides to avenge him. (Though the justifiable and potentially sympathetic motivation is countered by verbal and actual atrocities.)
America Saves the Day: An American Retired Badass puts a whole Parisian kidnapping and sex slavery ring on its knees in just three days while the French authorities are shown to be complicit in the trafficking. Less of an example than most in that the grudge is personal and bringing the ring down is more a side effect of Bryan finding his daughter than his goal.
In the second film, the Turkish police are explicitly shown to be working with the kidnappers, or at least some of them are.
This is not a game. I will finish this thing. You'll just have to die.
Badass Grandpa: Well, Badass Dad if you want to get technical. It's never specified how old Bryan is, but Liam Neeson is pushing 60, and Bryan's age is mentioned to be a factor, but he can still waste a dozen villains half his age without breaking a sweat, and it's only near the very end of the movie that he starts visibly feeling the strain.
Badass Longcoat: In some of the publicity shots and part of Bryan's outfit for much of the film.
Berserk Button: It's very simple. Don't kidnap any of Bryan's family....OR ELSE.
Black and Gray Morality: The Protagonist is an ex-special forces soldier who tortured people in the past (that's where he learned his "technique"), is merciless toward his enemies and threatens an innocent person and then carries through on it by shooting her in the arm as she's serving dinner and while their children have just gone to bed, and threatens to finish the job if her husband doesn't comply on one occasion. His opponents are sex-slavers, a profession not exactly known for being all that sympathetic.
Chekhov's Gun: When Bryan is on the plane to France, he is shown listening to the "Good luck" line over and over again. At the time, it just seems like an obsession. When he finds the slavers, he asks them to read the line, and reveals that he has memorized the voice, and makes a special point to kill that one last.
Determinator: By the end of the first movie, Bryan has a bullet wound, multiple knife wounds, been beaten in fisticuffs pretty badly by the sheik's Dragon, and most likely has a broken ankle, and still manages to massacre every Mook on the yacht. And that's just the last action sequence. Adrenaline's a hell of a drug.
The Dragon: The very last guy Bryan confronts on the boat before the Sheikh gives the former a good fight, inflicting nearly every single wound Bryan has by the time he saves Kim. The guy still dies anyway.
The very last Albanian Bryan confronts before Murad in the sequel.
Dull Surprise: Patrice St. Clair seems pretty relaxed and even kind of sleepy after Bryan wounds him and he attempts to plead for his life.
Bryan comes off very similar to Sam Fisher in Splinter Cell: Conviction, and the film was released in Ubisoft's native France in 2008, and the US in 2009. SCC came out the next year, and shares elements such as parts of the fighting style, and the plot of a Papa Wolf seeking his daughter and happening upon a major criminal plot on the way.
The music used in the action scenes of the sequel sounds like John Powell's compositions for The Bourne Series.
First Father Wins: Bryan's disconnect with Kimmy is summed up in the birthday party scene. Ultimately subverted.
Definitely wins in the sequel.
Flipping the Bird: When he takes down one of the warehouses harbouring kidnapped women, while searching for his daughter and finding a girl wearing Kimmy's jacket; he takes the time to flip off the remaining bad guys and the French Police department investigating the explosion, while driving.
Good Is Not Nice: Some of the methods Bryan employs to achieve his goals would make him an Anti-Villain if not for the rightness of his cause.
Idiot Ball: It's a wonder social services didn't come around to take Kim away from Lenore. It takes a particular kind of parental incompetance to encourage your (recently turned) 17 year old daughter to travel overseas across another continent with only one person she knows along with others she's not even the slightest bit familiar with and call out her overprotective father for even mentioning how this could go wrong.
Innocent Bystander: In the first film, Bryan shoots and wounds Jean-Claude's wife, even though she had nothing to do with Kim's kidnapping. In the sequel, one of the mooks murders a random hotel guest after barging into the wrong room.
Did Bryan seriously think that the Albanian scumbags in the first film wouldn't have families who would want to avenge their brutal and bloody deaths?
And the other way around too: Did the Albanians seriously think that Bryan just takes things lying down? That he won't just rip through all of the Mooks just to find Lenore?
I Will Find You: Bryan never says this to his daughter, and the search is on fast forward, but Bryan still tears Paris a new asshole in service of this trope. And he does the same in Istanbul to find his ex-wife.
Bryan: "I need you to be focused!" (slams nails into man's thighs) Are you focused yet?
The vengeful Albanians torture Jean-Claude this way in the sequel.
Jerkass: In addition to being brutal sex traffickers, all of the slavers are arrogant sods. Averted with Lenore's second husband — despite his role as the husband of the hero's ex, the filmmakers cleverly resisted the obvious choice of making him a berk, and he lends his hand as best he can with the situation.
Jitter Cam: Thankfully not to the extent of the Bourne movies, but yeah.
It's practically a meme these days to call this film "that movie where Liam Neeson kills half of Europe".
Explained a bit with Bryan's backstory: He served with the CIA as a "Preventer" (apparently some sort of well-trained CIA spook) and special forces prior to that.
One Riot, One Ranger: Justified due to the very narrow window of opportunity to rescue his daughter, and the particular set of skills that he possesses. That said, he does get specialized assistance from time to time, such as the Albanian translator, or Stuart hiring the jet to get him to Paris.
Simple Yet Awesome: Bryan's martial arts style is very abrupt and efficient, fully obeys the laws of gravity and physics, and involves no somersaults or fancy kicks— he even refuses to use Guns Akimbo when he has two pistols. His style basically consists of ramming hard things into people's heads, and ramming people's heads into hard things, and dammit, it works really well.
Even regular kicking is avoided, which is a surprising bit of Shown Their Work for Hollywood. Many martial arts experts agree that kicking is mostly ineffective in a Real Life fight (especially in the close quarters most of the fight scenes take place).
Spiritual Successor: ABC's Missing, starring Ashley Judd, is about a former CIA agent Mama Bear looking for her abducted son and stumbling onto some sort of larger plot. However, Becca Winstone has more backup and friends than Mills.
The Unfettered: Bryan is the living embodiment of this. Nothing is going to stop him from finding his daughter, and there is no line he will not cross to find her. He even claimed to be willing to kill two old friends if they didn't help him achieve his goal. All of Bryan's actions in the movies indicate that he was not bluffing.
Too Dumb to Live: Kim and Amanda, but mostly Amanda, as Kim had reservations about all the information Amanda was sharing. Two young, pretty American women who don't speak much French go to Paris alone, they accept a car ride with a stranger, they let the stranger see the exact address where they are staying, they tell the stranger where in the building they will be staying, and that they will be alone in the apartment. It's as though they went down a checklist of things not to do when traveling.
The human traffickers organization runs on the premise that the best women are young girls with rich families that can send them on vacation who have the diplomatic clout to demand investigations. Better yet, they operate at a post 9/11 airport so that they can be recorded by security cameras talking to the girls at their last known location. Even if Bryan hadn't made his roaring rampage of rescue, the families would be demanding answers, the news media would be having a field day, and the French government would have shut the whole thing down within a week (maybe). Human trafficking only works when nobody cares enough about the victims.
On the other hand, the kidnappers may be aware of all of this. If not for Kim being on the phone at the moment she was kidnapped, odds are Bryan would have never been able to find her, and she would be long gone (probably dead) before anyone started asking questions. Also, the spotters are clearly paid for their efforts, but at the same time, the Albanians in question treat them as disposable assets. All they had to do was wave a few euros in some French college student's face, and they had him. Since he would be the last person seen with the kidnapped girl(s), he'll be the fall guy, and the Albanians would be looking for the next guy to take his place.
The kidnappers didn't make sure that the SD card got broken along with the cell phone. A first piece of evidence for Bryan.
In the sequel, Bryan spares Murad's life so that he won't have to continue fighting off his vengeful family. How does he respond? By trying to shoot Bryan as he leaves his gun and has his back turned. How does Bryan respond? He opens his palm to reveal that he popped the last bullet in the gun, then grabs Murad by the face and slams him into the wall, killing him.
A man just escaped from being tied up, he theoretically had no idea where he was being held, and had no less than seven guards within spitting distance. He proceeded to kill all of the guards and tear apart a good portion of the police force and cityside while getting to American territory. Is it really such a good idea to continue holding his ex-wife?
Underestimating Badassery: Bryan explains to a number of people that he just wants his daughter back: first to Marko, to whom he issues a simple and straightforward offer/demand, that doesn't work; then he tells his old colleague Jean-Claude that he won't leave Paris without his daughter; finally, he offers trafficker Patrice Saint-Clair a get-out clause if he just gives him Kim. Even by the point that he's proven he's essentially a one-man army, nobody takes his threats seriously.
Worf Had The Flu: Bryan starts to run on fumes by the end (in addition to his hurry to finally get to Kim) which results in some tougher fights. Despite getting hurt a bit more, he doesn't stop. The same goes for the sequel.
Amicably Divorced: Not at the beginning of the film, mind you; but when Bryan single-handedly saved Kimmy's life, he certainly reclaimed a measure of love from his ex-wife, not to mention gaining the friendship and respect of her husband.
Authority Equals Asskicking: Sheik Raman's Dragon is probably the only person in the entire film to be on equal footing with Bryan in a fight... or the only person who lasts more than 30 seconds against him, anyway.
The "incompetent" part is easily understood if you compare a regular, day-to-day cop and lazy bodyguards to an ex-CIA agent whose life was black-ops.
Based on a Great Big Lie: One William Hillar, who was eventually revealed to be a fraud who never even served in the military, said that this happened to him in Asia. In his version, it was the friend who survived, not his daughter.
Chekhov's Gunman: Bryan's friend Sam shows up for a buddy get-together that reveals some of Bryan's past and is clearly still a part of the system. He is later called up to get some information about what happened to Kim and what their best options are.
Compensating for Something: When Bryan and Stewart are arguing, before Bryan has revealed Kim has been kidnapped, and is asking Stewart questions about his business to determine if it had anything to do with Kim being kidnapped, Stewart starts playing the rich guy card, and Bryan yells, "This is no time for dick measuring!"
Death by Sex: Kim is a virgin, as the plot goes out of its way to note. Amanda apparently isn't, and was looking forward to having fun abroad. Guess who dies? Amanda not being a virgin and also being the one who dies is a case of Truth in Television for this movie; the way they treated Kim and Amanda depending on their virginity is something that happens with most sex slavers in real life.
Downer Ending: Subverted so you don't feel worried about the victims of the Albanians' trafficking of women. Bryan took out major figureheads along the way of finding Kim, so it's fair to say the entire operation has suffered a heavy blow by the end of the film.
Electric Torture: Played terrifyingly straight. Also averts the trope association of there not being any visible wounding, the electric current is being run into the mook by nails shoved directly into his thigh. And this scene was edited and censored for the American theatrical release, so the movie would have a nice comfortable PG-13 rating. There were no ten-penny nails used; instead the jumper cables were attached to the metal of the chair. It was restored for the extended edition DVD and Blu ray release.
Enhance Button: One of the clues he follows is a memory card from his daughter's broken cell phone. He finds a picture with a reflection of someone following them around. He doesn't zoom in much, but he is able to enhance it using a contrast & sharpen filter at a kiosk to get a good look at his face.
More realistic than usual; most kiosks like that will show a lower-resolution version of the picture to save on loading time. When Bryan presses the "Process" button on the kiosk, it simply loaded the full-resolution picture.
Establishing Character Moment: The first half hour makes it very clear several things. 1) Bryan loves his daughter more than anything else. 2) Bryan is a stickler for details and does everything with a precise edge to it. 3) He has a past life of undisclosed international field work that leaves him one of the most lethal people on the planet. The rest of the movie is showing what happens when someone takes away the first point.
Genre Blind: If the kidnappers of this film had so much as a shred of savvy, they would've destroyed all evidence by assuring that the SD card got broken along with the cell phone.
Invincible Hero: Throughout the whole entire movie, it seems Bryan's a badass who never gets hit once and everything's going in his favor. However, he does get attacked from behind, gets knocked out, and gets stuck in a trap - from which he quickly escapes and kills everyone there. He does finally meet an opponent with only slightly inferior skills to his own, and beating him finally earns him a good number of scratches and bruises.
Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Considering the type of movie this is, this trope is unavoidable, but there is one particularly bad case of it at the movie's climax: The Dragon (armed with a sub-machine gun) unloads countless of rounds point blank at Bryan Mills, and all but one bullet miss.
Earlier, the Albanians at the construction site unload dozens of rounds into Bryan's vehicle, without a single one hitting him or his passenger.
Ironic Echo: The phrase "Good luck." Not in the usual way, but perhaps even more Badass. Bryan tricks the mook who said it to him over the phone into repeating it to him in person right before he reveals who he is.
ISO-Standard Urban Groceries: Bryan uses a bag as camouflage to get into the Paris apartment. Jean-Claude also carries home a baguette for dinner.
Nebulous Criminal Conspiracy: The actual abductors are lowlife thugs from the Albanian mafia, but as Bryan carves his way through Paris to find his daughter, he discovers they are just part of a much wider and more sinister network existing at all levels of society, including the police and high-placed city officials, with clients including a wealthy Arab oil sheik.
Not Even Bothering with the Accent: When Bryan impersonates Jean-Claude, no one questions why a French policeman has an Irish accent, let alone why one is speaking English.
Saint-Clair's name would suggest he's French, but his accent is distinctly American.
Properly Paranoid: The Overprotective Dad is proven absolutely right in every way to have tried forbidding his daughter from traveling overseas. As well, the conditions he sets when he finally allows her to go (regular phone calls and such) are the only reason they had any sort of chance of rescuing her.
Liam Neeson has stated that the movie caused some cases of this in real life. People have come up to him and told him they will never send their kids to Europe, which he's not too happy about.
Protagonist-Centered Morality: Bryan comes off this way, as he initially appears to care only about his daughter and doesn't help any of the other victims.
Somewhat justified, as he only has a 96 hour window to find his daughter, and stopping to help some of the other girls could cost him valuable time. It's also undermined by the fact that during the course of the search, Bryan managed to kill off most of the figureheads behind the slaving ring, likely destroying the entire setup.
Prove I Am Not Bluffing: Bryan demonstrates that he is willing to do anything to get his daughter back by shooting the wife of his French police contact and threatening to kill her if he won't cooperate.
Punch Clock Villain: Patrice Saint-Clair tries to paint himself this way, but fails to convince Bryan.
Reassigned to Antarctica: In the past, Bryan left a mission to attend Kim's birthday party and got reassigned to Alaska for his actions.
Rich Bitch: Lenore, Bryan's ex-wife. She has good reason for not liking Bryan, mainly that he wasn't around due to his career taking out very bad people in the CIA, but she winds up looking spiteful and manipulative instead. She repeatedly tries to distance her daughter from Bryan (thankfully unsuccessful) and flaunt the fact that her new husband is richer and can afford nicer things for Kim. This invokes Disproportionate Retribution when you consider the fact that the woman yells at Bryan for trying to give his daughter a gift on her birthday (an Abusive Parent might deserve that treatment, not a guy who simply worked odd hours). And then children of divorce often play one against the other, so their daughter likely played off the tension to get more out of both of them.
Pop star Sheerah initially seems like this when, upon being asked by Bryan if she can give his aspiring-to-be-singer daughter any tips, she responds, "Tell her to pick another career." It's later revealed after Bryan saves Sheerah from an attacker that she meant it as a warning, as a lucrative career in the music industry is "not what everyone thinks it is". She ends up giving the number of her vocal coach and her manager to Bryan when he simply responds, "That's what she wants."
Scary Black Man: He appears just long enough to get his ass completely kicked by Bryan. Also one of the mooks; he is the only mook on the boat to give Bryan any trouble.
Serious Business: Apparently, sex slaver Marko values keeping the location of our protagonist's daughter secret more than his own life. He's probably worried that his colleagues would do worse if they found out. Oooooh boy is he wrong.
Sex Slave: The purpose of the trafficking ring is kidnapping girls to turn into these.
She Is All Grown Up: Kim. The film opens with home movies of her as a little girl, and then fast forwards to her as a 17 year old (sort of). Plus, this is no doubt what made her so appealing to the sex trafficking scout.
Spoiled Sweet: Kimmy is certainly spoiled by her multi-millionare step-dad, but she doesn't short her real dad on some love and hugs at her birthday party (Her scream of joy at the step-dad's pony gift was louder, but she wasn't faking with the karaoke machine from Bryan). This is also in contrast to her mom trying to trivialize his presence.
The Unreveal: It's never fully explained what Bryan used to do; his conversation with his buddies and former co-workers implies any combination of wet work, special forces, or intelligence/counter-intelligence work. Kimmy admitted she was afraid to ask what he did and all he explained was "a Preventer." A "Preventer" of the type known in the movies to inhabit Langley, Virginia would seem to be a safe assumption.
Bryan's friends reference a previous mission where "the chief" went missing. "Chief" is sometimes short for Chief Petty Officer, an NCO rank in the Navy, suggesting that Bryan was a former Navy SEAL.
What the Hell, Hero?: A mutual accusation between Bryan and Lenore regarding Kimmy's Paris trip. Lenore called him out for crushing her dream almost on the spot, while Bryan told her off for making it a double-team ordeal where he was the bad guy by default.
Amicably Divorced: Continuing the trend from the end of the first movie, Bryan and Lenore have this dynamic. Predictably, they get a Relationship Upgrade. Based on trailers, you would've been forgiven for thinking that it had already happened.
Murad (the father of the lead kidnapper in the first film) tells Bryan that they will find his daughter and sell her all over again, this time to the lowest bidder to be defiled until she is nothing but a piece of meat.
Artistic License - Physics: At one point, Bryan and Kim together triangulate his position over cellphone by having her set off a loud noise (in this case a grenade) and him counting how long it takes him to hear it through his phone versus through the air. The problem is, cell phone conversations are rarely instantaneous; there's typically a portion-of-a-second lag between transmission and reception. While it would be in-character for Bryan to be able to factor this into his calculations, such reasoning could easily lead to Fan Wank, so let us simply say that this issue was not addressed and leave it at that.
For that matter, Bryan's calculations aren't even accurate. He counts off 4.5 seconds between Kim detonating a grenade to when he hears it, and so concludes that he is at a 4.5 miles radius from Kim, a 1 second to 1 kilometer ratio. However, the speed of sound in air is ~340 mps, so the correct calculation of Bryan’s distance from Kim should have an approximate radius of 1.6 km, or just under one mile.
Bottomless Magazines: Especially during the car chase, Bryan fires his automatic pistol far more times than the magazine would allow and is never shown reloading.
Averted later when Bryan gets his hands on an AK-47. He squeezes the trigger once for a few seconds into the gut of a mook before dropping the gun, the magazine spent.
Bullying a Dragon: The bad guys know for a fact that Bryan, on his own, cut his way through their sex slavery ring like a hot knife through butter leaving a trail of bodies behind him that would make a serial killer blush. This is the man they intentionally want to antagonize. Vengeance is one thing, but this borders on suicidal recklessness.
They started it because they were hurt at their loss after having lost several people from the village. They lost a lot more people than that in their foolish revenge scheme.
But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Murad shows Bryan photographs of the men he killed in the previous film. The only one he can remember is Murad's son, the one he tortured to death by electrocuting him through nails in his legs.
Call Back: When Lenore tells Bryan not to go looking into Kim's boyfriend he just found out about, he tries to protest that he doesn't even know his name. She reminds him that he found his daughter in a city of 12 million people in less than 72 hours.
Bryan and his buddies still get together for red meat and red wine.
Chekhov's Gag: At the beginning of the film, Kim is having a difficult time passing her driver's test. During the epilogue, there is a closeup of a distressed Bryan, which is meant to suggest he or his family is in peril again. Then the film cuts to a wide angle shot to discover he's just watching Kim parallel park for her driver's test.
Crazy-Prepared: It comes as part of Bryan's job as a bodyguard to always have the necessary equipment needed to make sure that he can get out of any situation, even if it's just a hidden cell phone. And he's got hand grenades, just in case.
Cycle of Revenge: Bryan tells Murad about this when they finally confront each other. Bryan knows that if he kills Murad, then his other two sons will just seek revenge for the death of their father, and will die the same way. Bryan mentions, however, that he can instead go home and raise his sons and grandchildren. The loss of his son is merely the price of being in human trafficking and echoes the loss of all lives his son ruined. Murad tries to kill Bryan, leading Bryan to kill him instead.
Dramatic Gun Cock: Bryan's cue to duck before two mooks unleash a hail of assault rifle fire through the wall at him.
Drives Like Crazy: Subverted while playing it straight. Kim has failed her driver's license test twice now, yet she can drive perfectly when Bryan is giving her instructions. Guess who has to drive wildly through the streets of Istanbul while avoiding the police? Guess who's giving the orders.
Driving Stick: Guess what kind of car is used in the aforementioned chase.
Faux Affably Evil: Murad is this heavily. There's a trope-defining scene where Lenora is talking to him, and Murad mentions how he admires her, how he thinks she's a innocent woman who had nothing to do with his son's death, and then he says for such respect he'll send her back home...in pieces.
Final Boss: The big Albanian at the end. The guy is very nearly Bryan's match.
Fruit Cart: A few of them get smashed during the Chase Scene. Not just fruit carts either. Bagels and a few other carts.
Genre Savvy: Lenore (hilariously) begs Bryan not to run a background check on Kim's new boyfriend, knowing that's exactly what he'd do. Also Kim, who knows instantly that something's up the moment she hears Bryan's "business" voice.
Gilligan Cut: The scene with the background check joke segues directly into Bryan arriving at the boyfriend's house.
Hot Pursuit: Lampshaded. Bryan had to shoot a cop just to ensure that Kim and himself even could get away from the bad guy's hideout, and he flat out says it. On top of that, the cab they were driving was stolen.
Hypocrite: The bad guys want revenge on Bryan for killing their family members, and are totally unwilling to accept their own personal responsibility for the countless families they ruined in conducting their sex slavery operation, not to mention the fact that Bryan's actions were motivated by the exact same behavior the bad guys condemn him for.
I Did What I Had to Do: Both Bryan and Kim end up committing numerous offenses and crimes throughout Istanbul just to get their Lenore back. They're almost all in the heat of the moment, so they don't have much time to think about what they're doing. Examples include: ditching a taxi cab without paying the cabbie, stealing a taxi cab, throwing hand grenades in a populated area (albeit at targets that are definitely unoccupied), shooting a police officer, evading the police, and numerous counts of property damage. Nearly all of this would typically be handled by the US Embassy and they'd get off without much hassle, but Bryan has to call his buddy Sam to pull some strings at the embassy just to make sure the US military doesn't shoot them as they barrel their way inside.note The ground that embassies are built on is officially deemed part of its country. Any crimes committed by a US citizen in a US Embassy would be prosecuted as if they were committed stateside. Nearly killing US soldiers on US soil definitely counts.
Moral Myopia: Invoked by Murad. Bryan killed his son, and that makes him the bad guy. The fact that Marko was practically a mass murderer to begin with, having condemned an unknown number of girls to a short life of sexual slavery, is irrelevant to the calculations. Murad even cheerfully tells Bryan that he intends to finish Marko's job of finding and selling Kim as a sex slave.
Neck Snap: With many enemies, it looks like they are dying from a simple touch administered by Bryan, thanks to the removal of the crisp "crunching" sound to secure a PG-13 rating.
Photographic Memory: Bryan takes this trope to truly frightening levels. He was able to trace his steps back to where he and Lenore were held by the kidnappers in spite of being blind-folded on their first ten minute long trip, by remembering the sounds he heard on the way and how far/long the spaces are between each sound. Eek.
Shell-Shocked Veteran: Kim clearly isn't over getting kidnapped in the first movie, and she has a flashback the instant she hears Bryan's serious tone of voice.
Took a Level in Badass: Kim reacts rather rationally to the kidnapping of her mother, roofhops in Istanbul, faces an Albanian at gunpoint, performs combat driving that would make Jason Statham wince; and most importantly of all, gaining the courage to rescue her parents alone rather than running to the safety of the American Embassy and letting them die, in spite of not possessing any combat training herself. Only time will tell if she will live up to her father's legacy as a warrior.
What Happened to the Mouse?: Jean-Claude Pitrel vanishes from the film after the scene where the Albanians torture him for information on Bryan's whereabouts. One can only assume that they killed him once they got what they wanted...