"From Paris with Love" Movie Review (2010)

2/05/2010 Posted by Admin

Movie Review

"From Paris with Love"

Directed by Pierre Morel, Written Luc Besson and Adi Hasak, 101 minutes, Rated R.

By our guest blogger, Rob Stammitti

There always is a dilemma when reviewing a film like "From Paris with Love." What is meant to be taken seriously and what isn't? John Travolta's performance is insanely over-the-top, as are a few moments in the action, but there are times when the film goes for these bizarre and out-of-place dramatic scenes and it's pretty difficult to distinguish the seriousness from the satire.

The plot is beyond convoluted, but it basically follows James Reese (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), a young man employed by an American diplomat in France as an assistant but who also doubles as a sort of special agent. He doesn't really do anything too risky--he assists other agents by changing their license plates, he plants wires here and there, etc. Nothing life threatening. He desperately wants a more dangerous and important role, however, and he gets that chance when he's called to partner up with the loose-cannon agent Charlie Wax (John Travolta) on a top-secret mission.

The story goes all over the place, and the mission itself changes pretty constantly throughout the film. First, it's a mission to avenge a politician's daughter, then to take down a drug cartel, and then to stop a terrorist plot that has a strange connection to Reese himself. The many turns make for a more engaging film, I suppose, but none of them lift it above average.

The movie doesn't have much to separate itself from other action films. Unlike director Pierre Morel's previous work ("District 13" and "Taken"), the action is all very by-the-book and the characterization is completely derivative, all the way up to one partner being the straight-man while the other is the wild card. It's a shame that a director who made his name with the use of parkour (a style of action that involves extensive realistic stunts and free-running techniques, displayed, for example, in films such as "Casino Royale") would resort to the typical fast cutting and frequent explosions prevalent in most mainstream action films we see today. Even "Taken" featured action that was a lot more low-key and true-to-life, which made everything seem much more in the moment and threatening.

How one takes the performances generally depends on how seriously one expects to take the film. John Travolta is obviously having a ball playing the obnoxious tough guy, but I took him less for tough and more simply for obnoxious. Sometimes his performance works, but often, it's just excessive. Rhys Meyers plays the straight man well enough, but it doesn't take much. Every other actor in the film is either there to be killed or targeted for a joke.

Despite my general ambivalence to the film, I think it will appeal pretty heavily to really hardcore action fans. Anyone who loves a lot of adrenaline, a high body count and lots of car chases, explosions, etc., will get a kick out of it. If you're willing to tolerate Travolta, you're in for double the enjoyment. If you're only a casual action fan, or a fan of less-traditional action, then the film gets a bit tedious.

Grade: C

View the trailer for "From Paris with Love" below. What are your thoughts of the movie?

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  1. @graywolfpack said...

    First of all, I have not seen this yet, but I will eventually, probably when it releases to dvd or pay per view, so I can
    t say what I think of the actual film. However based on the review I will say this, when I do see this it will be because i am in the mood for ass kicking action and fighting fun, not to watch a literary classic. The review admits that it will probably appeal to hardcore action fans, which are probably the only kind that would go see this anyway, so it sounds to me like it should do pretty good. Love Travolta!

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