In Paris, a young employee in the office of the US Ambassador hooks up with an American spy looking to stop a terrorist attack in the city.In Paris, a young employee in the office of the US Ambassador hooks up with an American spy looking to stop a terrorist attack in the city.In Paris, a young employee in the office of the US Ambassador hooks up with an American spy looking to stop a terrorist attack in the city.
Our story starts with a long dose of James Reece (Jonathan Rhys Meyers). He's the personal aid to the U.S Ambassador to France. Known for book smarts, his side task of spying for his country affords him the opportunity to place bugs and switch plates. At his flat, his girlfriend Caroline (Kasia Smutniak) has to deal with being kept in the dark. When the opportunity for more dangerous work presents itself, Reece is given a partner in the form of Charlie Wax (John Travolta). Wax is a fast-talking, trigger-happy, manic whose order to do as he pleases may just be too much for Reece.
The two J's make for a great team. On one end you have Reece leading the audience into the underground world of mayhem while trying to keep his wits about him. On the other there is the everyman's adrenaline junkie who may not be too old just yet. And for what it's worth, in a throwaway action flick, there's a genuine sense of fun in the air. However, the emphasis on mindless chaos puts a damper on the mood. There are numerous moments where the pace hiccups all the way to 11. I sure would have appreciated a briefing of sorts instead of a simple kill everyone mentality. Even with the agenda to smite the terrorists, there is an explosive moment near the end that exists for zero narrative purpose. Maybe Wax was having so much fun flirting with diegetic sound that he forgot to fire his bazooka, opting instead to save it for a more dramatic moment. You just can't have the kill happy hero abort and purse a target at the same time.
From the director of Taken, Pierre Morel, comes a tale based on a short story from Luc Besson. I'm not sure what that's going to mean to the average moviegoer, whether you factor in Morel's short resume at the helm or the sporadic nature of Besson's screenplays. What I saw from a crew standpoint was a throwback to the '80s and '90s action genre. Gun use doesn't provoke bullet-time effects. You can bet Travolta has a stunt double. Most importantly you can understand what's happening during the fights. I can't even count how many films edit around the action these days to the point that you have no honest idea of who's still standing. If you are sick of The Dark Knight method of shooting fists juxtaposed with fallen bodies, From Paris with Love will be a good movie for you.
Wax is a character that is unfortunately placed in the narrative's backseat. To better understand what I'm talking about, look at Lethal Weapon. In that film the two cop buddies have a developed background. We see their homes, we see Murtaugh's family and Riggs' dog. Well in From Paris with Love the only character you get to know the history of or see the private love of is Reece. At 92 minutes, there certainly could have been time allotted to explore Wax, but the screenplay shuns it. Maybe some time to cool down with his side of life would have helped reduce the jerky pacing. Man, I feel the love for you Paris but I'm not sure that I'm getting it back.
- Feb 5, 2010