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The film opens up with a grainy, black and white scene of Joe (Kevin Bacon) explaining the end of a kidnapping to a worried mother. He gets a phone call saying that everything is in place and lets the mother go, saying thanks for the last 24 hours, including their private party. The mother is released and finds her missing son, alive and well, waiting for her on a playground. Joe then meets up with Marvin (Pruitt Taylor Vince), who is upset at the prospect of doing another kidnapping.
Next, we see the Jennings family, Will (Stuart Townsend), Karen (Charlize Theron), and their young daughter, Abby (Dakota Fanning) arriving at a dock. Abby bends down to look at crabs under the dock. This worries Will, a famous doctor. He says goodbye to his wife and daughter and tells them he's rented a cabin for them the next weekend, after he returns from a conference. Karen is pleasantly surprised. Abby asks him to wiggle the wings of his small plane as he flies away, which he does.
Karen and Abby return home to have some ice cream. Abby is getting the laundry from her hamper when Marvin puts his hand over her mouth. He meets Joe at a glass door and they synchronize their plans. In the meantime, Karen is calling out for Abby. The television comes on very loud to a Simpson's episode, then is turned off when Karen approaches. She turns around and drops her bowl because Joe is standing behind her, holding the remote. He explains his plans and informs her that he knows his plan works because he's done it four other times and hasn't been caught yet. Karen runs upstairs, grabs a gun, and points it at Joe. The only thing that keeps her from shooting him is his threat that Abby will die if he doesn't call Marvin every 30 minutes. Karen is panicked about the safety of her daughter. It turns out Abby is severely asthmatic, as evidenced by a drawer full of medicine. Joe is angry because he didn't know. He calls Marvin and Karen screams that strong coffee will help in case of an attack.
Will checks into his hotel and gives his speech about a powerful new anasthetic on which he holds the patent. In the audience is Cheryl (Courtney Love), who approaches him at his room and asks to use his phone. Will points out the house phones by the elevators. She then tries to seduce him to get into his room, but he shows her his wedding ring. Then she tells him that he daughter has been kidnapped and she'll die if she doesn't get into his room.
Abby has an attack and Marvin gives her coffee. Joe blindfolds Karen and allows her to deliver medicine to Abby, but then forces them apart. Marvin comments that Abby sounded just like Katy.
In the hotel room, Will hits Cheryl with a cell phone. She tattles to Joe, her husband, and, while on the phone with Will, Joe hits Karen with his cell phone.
Will notices a C-section scar on Cheryl and asks how she can do this when she has children.
Karen's neighbor discovers Joe, but Karen passes him off as her lover. Joe tries to seduce Karen,
who seems like she's going to go alone, but instead she finds one of Will's scalpels and threatens to cut off Joe's private parts.
Abby gets away temporarily and calls Karen, but Marvin catches her. Karen grabs a gun (hers and Will's) forces Joe to tell Marvin not to.
Karen accidentally slices Joe's leg with the scalpel. Even though she stitches his leg up (she used to be a nurse), he's pissed and refuses to call Marvin for the 30-minute check-in.
Marvin prepares to strangle Abby, watching the clock.
Karen pleads with Joe, who relinquishes and calls. Marvin yells at him for being late. Karen promises to abide by Joe's rules from then on.
Will removes bullets from Cheryl's gun while she sleeps, then injects her with his paralyzing anasthetic. She can still think and hear him, so he pleads with her to save his daughter or die. He then injects her with the antidote. When she comes to, she asks if that was what it felt like when her daughter died. Will sees a picture of her daughter, Katy, and remembers her case. The surgeon who nicked a major artery and could not stop the bleeding lied and said Will let her die. This is why Joe and Cheryl have been after the Jennings family. Cheryl helps Will and he gets a friend to trace Joe's cell phone.
Karen and Joe go to the bank. She tells the banker that Will needs $250,000 for a new painting and wires the money to another bank. Cheryl waits in the car while Will goes in and gets the money. The banker tells him that there's a problem and leads him to where and undercover FBI agent is waiting with the money.
The FBI follows Joe and Karen's car by helicopter. He steals another car and breaks away from them.
Marvin is driving Abby to the meeting spot. Will and Cheryl take his plane, after he ditches his FBI wire, and go looking for Abby. They fly over Joe and Karen's car. When they fly over Marvin's truck, Will wiggles the plane's wings so Abby knows he's there.
After Will lands the plane, it explodes. He and Cheryl were safely out, though. This causes a large traffic accident. Marvin, in his crashed truck, tells Abby to run. Abby is screaming because she thinks her daddy blew up in the plane. Cheryl grabs her and they hide behind a car as Joe looks for them. Will tells Joe he did not kill Katy, then Joe shoots Will in the leg. Karen comes to in her overturned car and searches for Abby and Will. Joe finds Cheryl and says that they are going to be a family again, with Abby as their daughter.
Joe and Will get into a fight and Karen shoots Joe twice in the chest. Marvin takes Abby, who is having another attack. Will goes for Abby's medicine and Karen begs Marvin to give Abby to her. Together, Will and Karen administer Abby's medicine as Cheryl is arrested.
In the end, Abby clings to Will and Karen, who just stare at each other.
--The Movie Queen
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