Abigail Fortescue eagerly awaits the first impression of The daily telegraph. The article contains his first story as a journalist, of how opening a new railway in India theoretically gets someone around the world in 80 days. But when the paper comes out hot from the presses, she is furious: a man’s name has been put on her paper.
She rushes to the Tony Reform Club, where her father, Bernard, editor of the Telegraph– passes most days. His acquaintances Nyle Bellamy and Phileas Fogg debate the story, with Fogg defending the proposal and Bellamy teasing him about his own failed plan to travel the world. Fogg only got to Dover by trying.
Abigail’s appearance at the men’s club causes a ruckus; her father promises to speak to her at his office that afternoon, telling her that her readers would not have read a story by a female journalist. After she leaves angry and Fogg enjoys the same meal he eats every day, he suddenly decides that he will demonstrate the veracity of the article: he will be the first person to tour the world in 80 days.
Everyone in the club laughs. Bellamy offers Fogg ten thousand pounds if he succeeds, betting that Fogg won’t even make it out of England. Fogg raises it to twenty thousand and then takes the bet. He will begin his journey today and return to the Reform Club at 1:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve.
Why the sudden shamelessness of such a little adventurous man? Fogg has just received a postcard with a clock on the front and a word on the back: “coward”. This is one of many he has kept, the others representing faraway places, which he now packs, along with cash and newspaper articles on various technological innovations such as a hot air balloon built by a Monsieur Lôme in France. He also pockets a flask inscribed with his name as a dear “traveling companion”.
He needs a mate for his adventure, but his squeaky old servant Grayson has barely left the house in twenty years and can’t carry a cup of tea without spilling half of it. Fogg therefore sends a message from the Reform Club asking an agency for its best valet.
The message never gets to the agency. Passepartout, a waiter at the Club, intercepts him as he leaves, spotting a new position for himself. He must leave the club, having fled both an affair with a maid and a ensuing brawl with another employee.
When Passepartout introduces himself to Fogg, he claims to know many languages and to be perfect for the job. They leave quickly and board a ship for France.
They find another companion on board. Abigail has convinced her father to pay her to follow Fogg and report on his efforts in a regular column, despite Bernard’s objections that Fogg is not at all prepared for the adventure. Abigail will write under her mother’s maiden name, Fix, so as not to be the editor’s daughter.
Fix announces his plan to Fogg as he throws up on the side of the boat from seasickness and loses his hat to the wind. He refuses to let her report on him; as Passepartout will explain to Fix later, Fogg knows he will fail and does not want his publicity. Fix, unlike Fogg, recognizes Passepartout from the Reform Club.
Passepartout is nervous about stopping in Paris, if only to change trains. This plan is quickly derailed when the trio arrive to find protests underway in favor of the former Commune government and the police shutting down all railroads. While Passepartout calls a taxi in the midst of the unrest, Fix is run over by a man Passepartout recognizes. Passepartout drops Fix in the cabin, then transports Fogg and his luggage.
As the taxi pulls away, Passepartout sets out to organize a car for Italy. Fix follows him, curious about Passepartout, leaving Fogg alone in the taxi. He is soon stopped by a crowd and Fogg is pulled out while his luggage is being picked up. Running away with only his carpet bag and Fix’s suitcase, he is grabbed by children, who only stop grabbing items from the bags when a nun appears and scolds them. She then asks Fogg for a donation. He decides to go home.
But first he has to find Fix, he doesn’t want to leave her in the tumultuous streets of Paris. She followed Passepartout to where her father was killed by firing squad for being a revolutionary. While telling Fix about his father’s death, his brother Gérard appears, along with two men, including the one who knocked down Fix in front of the station.
Gérard is a revolutionary like his father: he participated in the establishment of the government of the Commune. He offers Fix the story of a life and urges him, as well as Passepartout, to join him and his comrades. They go to an abandoned building in front of a new police station.
President Adolphe Thiers is due to visit the station today. He is responsible for the violent overthrow of the Commune, and is the object of ongoing protests. Gérard plans to assassinate her. After forgiving Passepartout for leaving France for a wandering life following the death of their father, Gérard says that at least they will die together. After killing Thiers, the police will storm the building and kill everyone.
But as Thiers leaves the police station, Fogg calls him, asking him for help in finding Fix. Fix the calls to Fogg, hoping he can help him and Passepartout escape. As Gerard shoots, Fogg walks over to Fix’s voice and is hit.
The police opened fire on the building, killing Gérard’s comrades. Gérard tells Passepartout and Fix to run away, then he is killed. As Passepartout and Fix exit the building, they find Fogg, who has been saved from the bullet by the vial in his coat pocket. He asks Passepartout to take him to a place in a newspaper clipping he has, and Passepartout leads the way through the sewer. They flee from the police and finally arrive at Fogg: Monsieur Lôme’s workshop, where a hot air balloon awaits them.
As the police knock on the door, Fogg tries to convince Lôme to send them by plane to Italy. When Lôme explains that he was supposed to pilot the ball with his late wife, whose name it bears, Fogg tells him that no one knows more about the lost opportunities than himself – and Lôme agrees to let him take the ball. , although Lôme will not join them. Make my wife proud, he tells the trio as they fly away.
After dark, Fogg asks Fix to chronicle his trip after all. He shares the last drops of a glass with her and Passepartout from his flask, which now contains a bullet, covering the name of the one who gave it to him, and saved her life.