Friday, February 5, 2010

From Paris With Love

Some people are just never satisfied with what they have. Take James Reece (Jonathan Rhys Meyers: “The Tudors”) for example. He lives in Paris, works in the US embassy, is the personal assistant to the ambassador, has a hot girlfriend, Caroline (Kasia Smutniak), but he's still not happy. Reece wants more; Reece wants to be a special operative.

Finally Reece gets his chance. All he has to do is meet his new partner at the airport where he has been detained by customs, and accompany him on his mission. If he can pull this off, he's in. Sounds simple, right? Well, maybe if his new partner was a reasonable by-the-books kind of guy like him it would be.

Enter Charlie Wax (John Travolta: “Pulp Fiction”), a shaved headed, foulmouthed, insanely violent, impulsive special agent who is currently fighting with customs agents over whether or not he can bring a bag full of energy drinks into the country. Straight-laced chess-playing James is going to have a long day.

“From Paris With Love” is the latrest film from director Pierre Morel who brought us 2008's underrated “Taken”. “From Paris” dispenses with a lot of the long story set up of “Taken” and jumps right into the action, only bothering to fill in the plot as the movie goes on. The other big difference from “Taken”, aside from no real setup to the actual story, is that this is not a tale of a loner seeking vengeance, but more of an “Odd Couple” buddy cop film.

The first half of the movie is spent with Reece following Wax around Paris with a gun in one hand and a vase full for cocaine in the other as he starts gunfights with minorities seemingly almost at random. I had a little trouble with this as it felt almost like I was watching a video game without any cutscenes to explain why the bald psychopath is shooting up a Chinese restaurant or a mannequin factory.

As if the seemingly random nature of the action weren't enough, there's the matter of Charlie Wax's appearance. Travolta's character dresses like someone at least ten years younger than he is with a large earring dangling from one ear, and shiny leather jacket. It takes a little getting used to, but as the film progresses and the plot is revealed it all starts to gel into something at least acceptable if not quite beleivable.

While I'm picking on things, lets just say that if you are looking for something tense and suspenseful, look somewhere else. This movie is incredibly predictable; I had the main plot twist figured out before Reece and Wax even meet. Don't take this to mean that I did not enjoy the film though; just because you know where you're going doesn't mean that you cannot enjoy the ride.

At it's core, “From Paris” is little more than an excuse to spend 92 minutes watching John Travolta kill people. Whether he is shooting it out with Middle Eastern drug dealers, trashing an Asian street gang, or trying to aim a rocket launcher while hanging out the window of a speeding car, Charlie Wax is a one man killing machine leaving behind a trail of corpses wherever he goes. If this is what you are looking for, then you are in luck.

If you are in the mood for a, if not good then at least fun, violent adult action flick that will require no thinking on your part (indeed thinking too deeply about it may bring up bouts of fridge logic) Then I can heartily recommend this to you. There's lots of foul language, strong violence, splattered blood, drugs (but strangely, no nudity) in this film, so you will definitely want to find a babysitter instead of taking the kids to this one.

“From Paris With Love” is stupid, violent, and fairly predictable, but it's also a hell of a lot of fun. Turn off your brain, munch your popcorn, enjoy the over-the-top violence and fun banter, and go to Paris this weekend. “From Paris With Love” is in theaters now.

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