Wednesday, April 10, 2013

From Paris With Love

An Over The Top Performance Is Not Enough For From Paris With Love


The film "From Paris With Love," is an obvious play on the title of Ian Fleming's Bond classic novel and film, "From Russia with Love." This action packed buddy film stars John Travolta as Wax, the psycho super spy, and Jonathan Rhys Meyers ("August Rush") plays James Reece, the personal assistant to the French Ambassador. "From Paris With Love" is a formula buddy film where one partner is a psycho, and the other plays the play-it-by-the-book partner. Travolta goes over-the-top with his performance playing the role of Charlie Wax as if he has nothing to lose.

As the ambassador's personal assistant, Reece is only a part time low-level spy, whose only jobs today are switching license plates on orders of an unnamed, unseen boss who calls him periodically to do menial spy chores. Reece lives in an apartment with his girlfriend Caroline played by former model Kasia Smutniak who is a clothing designer. Clearly, Reece is detail oriented, and consumed by both his career and his wanting to become a real spy, he tends to ignore the lovely Caroline. Coming home one night to his apartment, James Reece follows a trail of red liquid trailing up to the rooftop. Not even carrying a gun Reece charges onto the roof with a broom only to find that Caroline prepared a candlelight dinner for two. The dinner is sweet and almost romantic, unfortunately, Reece's spy-boss calls and tells him that due to the lack of spies and that Reece is promoted. His boss also says he needs to pick up a Charlie Wax immediately at customs. Breaking his dinner date, Caroline is supportive of the promotion, gives him her father’s ring, and proclaims that if she didn't ask to marry him they never would marry. Rushing to customs, Travolta as Charlie Wax who is making a scene over a Red-Bull like drink that the French refuse to let through customs. Travolta sets the pace in this scene for the rest of the movie by taking not only his performance but also the believability of the story over the top. Meyers plays James Reece with cool sophistication that from a character point of view is capable and does develop throughout the film. After a short encounter with the customs agents, Reece solves Wax's power drinks problem eloquently, by slapping a "Diplomatic Mail" sticker onto the cans. The cans turn out to hide parts of Wax's semi-automatic pistol. Traveling through the elegant parts of Paris, as well as the seedy underground, the two partners unravel a mysterious terrorist cell.

"From Paris With Love", is director Pierre Morel's third film to date. In 2008, Morel directed Liam Neeson in the successful film "Taken." "Taken" brought in $226,830,568 in worldwide release. In 2004, Morel directed the French-language film "Banlieue 13" for writer and producer Luc Besson. Before that, Morel served as cinematographer on films as 2007's War and on 2002's "The Transporter" amongst many other films many of which are produced by Besson. In "From Paris With Love," Morel takes the action of "Taken" perhaps one-step beyond with the 56-year-old Travolta doing many of his own stunts. While watching "From Paris With Love" one can easily deduce the plot and the ending. Not an original plot, the film is fun for the action oriented fan. Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Kasia Smutniak are outstanding in their performances as James Reece and Caroline, as they show the most character development. Not a thinking man's film, "From Paris With Love" is rather mindless shoot-em-up comic follow up to Besson and Morel's "Taken."

Movie Data

Genre:  Action, Thriller
Year: 2010
Staring: John Travolta, Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Director: Pierre Morel
Producer(s) Luc Besson
Writer: Luc Besson
Rating: R

Running Time: 92 minutes
Release Date: 2/5/2010