February 6, 2010
Review - " From Paris with Love " - (in theaters) By Roland Hansen
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From Paris with Love
Directed by: Pierre Morel
Starring: John Travolta, John Travolta's bald head and goatee, &
John Travolta's many guns. Oh Yeah there are a couple other people
in the movie like Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Kasia Smutniak, Richard
Duren and a bunch of other relative unknowns
Imagine, if you will, an entire season of the TV show "24" condensed
into 90 minutes and surgically removed was the show's trademark
attention to pacing, restraint and plausibility (pause for ironic affect).
You would then have the movie "From Paris with Love."
"From Paris with Love" is your standard, by-the-numbers,
high-octane, Hollywood bullet-fest involving good guys, bad guys and
some sort of terrorist plot. This is, in fact, the exact type of movie the
rather brilliant Clive Owen vehicle "Shoot 'Em Up" satirically skewered
to the point of irrelevancy a couple of years ago. Of course, that
didn't mean these movies were going to stop coming. So here we go
again, whizzing through the streets of Paris as guns never need to be
reloaded, bodies pile up and kills are punctuated with pithy one-liners.
That said, if you're the type of person who enjoys this type of thing
you'll likely find "From Paris with Love" to be entertaining as hell
thanks mostly to the efforts of the movie's two leads.
Realizing it was probably best if I turned my brain off as quickly as
possible, I settled into the fast-paced little tale about a low-level
secret-operative James Reece played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers. The
Irishman has traded in his native brogue for a fairly decent American
accent as he finds himself stationed as an assistant to the U.S.
ambassador to France.
Reece's spy work has amounted to little more than errands and he is desperate for some more pulse-quickening assignments.
He gets his chance when he is ordered to assist Charlie Wax on an unspecified mission. Wax is played by John Travolta, who
is gifted at chewing scenery in ways than Nicholas Cage can only dream about.
If stealth and subtlety were the preferred traits of a spy then this would be a very different movie as Travolta boasts a
conspicuous shaven dome, a brazen attitude and all the cultural sensitivity of a Blue Collar Comedy Tour stop at the U.N. In
fact, Charlie Wax almost stereotypically embodies every European's worst fears of Americans, and Travolta plays him with
bravado. It's like he's a combination of Rambo, George W. Bush and the entire state of New Jersey.
Travolta and Rhys Meyers have a surprising chemistry and give a bit of a spark to the well-worn, buddy-movie combo of The
Egghead and The Muscle.
"From Paris with Love" is directed by Pierre Morel, who is as French as his name would suggest and who also directed last
year's sleeper-hit and revenge-flick (and soon to be Delta Award winner) "Taken." This is a much more free-wheeling and
jauntier film than his previous effort and while competently made, "From Paris with Love" does feel as if it was put together
after Morel had stayed up all night drinking espresso and watching all the "Lethal Weapon" movies.
"From Paris with Love" practically begs to be panned by
critics as there is nothing mentally stimulating to be found
in this movie other than by the part of your brain that likes
to see things go "boom!"
But to that point it does very well what it set out to do, which
is be nothing more than a light-weight, fast-paced, little
action flick. I find it hard to hate a movie that delivers exactly
what it promises, even if there's not a scrap of originality or
freshness to be found amidst the exploded rubble. It is what
it is, and in this day and age that is an admirable trait in a
movie. A trigger-happy John Travolta is not only the main
event but the only event in this gleefully over-the-top spy
movie. Although, I have to say, when there wasn't bang-
bang, shoot-em-up action going on (which is often) I found
myself fairly bored.