The movie was made on a budget of approx 25 million dollars and made almost 225 million dollars overall, including internationally. In that sense, the movie was a big success, but one cannot say the same about its reception from critics. The movie is fast, and as a result, you don't really need to see much of acting skills or even a lot of dialog. There is a lot of action, and it moves pretty fast, including quick scenes where one-by-one, the hero easily kills a number of opponents, only depending on luck right near the end. To some extent, the hero can catch up with quick moving cars, does not get affected by anybody attacking him, and it is to the credit of the director that the action sequences do not seem forced, no extravagant actions.
The movie primarily stars Liam Neeson as Bryan Mills, showcasing what happens when a black operative (apparently skilled in a number of weapons usage, skilled in intelligence operations, and many other dangerous skills) and now retired and working in the security business becomes a concerned father. He is divorced with his daughter living with her mother. He knows the dangers out there, and to that extent comes out as paranoid. His daughter wants to travel to France along with her friend, and he is very concerned, enough that his daughter gets disgusted. He finally agrees with some conditions, but is doing so with a reluctant mind.
And you know that with the type of movie this is, his worst fears will come true. His daughter forgets to call him when she reaches Paris, and at the airport, they meet a young man and agree to share a cab with him. The young man scouts for young girls who can be kidnapped and sold into a trafficking circuit, moving them quickly into a horrific life after drugging them. The ring is run by Albanians. Kim, Bryan's daughter, sees men kidnapping her friend and realizes that she has a very small period of time before she will also be taken. She calls her father who tells her that she will be taken, but she needs him to give him clues by describing the men who are taking her. And so it happens, and he records what she is saying as well as the words of the men who are taking her, and has a very brief conversation with one of them before the phone is cut.
Bryan quickly reaches Paris by using the plane that Kim's stepfather has access to, and starts the process of trying to find more information. He is able to find an image of Peter and chases him, in the process of which Peter dies in an accident. Bryan is taking some reluctant help from his friend in the French intelligence agency, but this friend is very reluctant to help, just providing some initial clues. The rest of the movie is a rushed affair where Bryan finds out more and also keeps on doing killing.