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Thursday, August 18, 2011

From Paris with Love (2010)

Rating: 1.5/4

From Paris with Love works best as one continuous, though still unimpressive, action sequence. At one point in the film CIA special agent Charlie Wax (John Travolta) remarks that he has killed 26 men in 24 hours in which his low-level partner James Reese (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) remarks "that's about one an hour." I didn't even notice, they could have said 40 and I would not have been surprised. Coming from Pierre Morel who directed the Taken (2008), which was another action film with an excessively high body-count.  Liam Neeson's performance in Taken most likely created the type role he will be typecast in for many years to come, though at least his performance was still emotionally charged.

James Reese is aide to the U.S. Ambassador of France, even with his powerful job he lives a normal life with his beautiful fiancee, Caroline (Kasia Smutniak). Everything changes when he is put on a top-secret mission with extremely unconventional CIA secret agent, Charlie Wax. In the mix of an endless supply of shootouts, with the occasional explosion, there is an actual mission going on. I found it almost comic to watch this film try to get emotional after all of its overly staged gunfights and surprisingly amusing wisecracks from Travolta.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers's performance has the wonderful duty of being the receiver of all of Travolta's punchlines. Yes, he does get his shining moment at the end, but looking back at his impact of the movie I noticed that all his character did was whine and ask questions. Meyers is best known for his Golden Glode award-winning portrayal of King Henry VIII in historical television series, The Tudors. His role is this film makes it a real challenge to find any of his real acting talents.

Written by Luc Bresson and Adi Hasak, but we know who ran that writing process. Bresson is known for writing/directing the cult classic La Femme Nikita (1990), Leon (1994), The Fifth Element(1997), and he has been involved in writing the scripts for over 20 films including, most recently, Taken.  His directing efforts have always been much deeper than films that he only works on scripts for. From Paris with Love is a low point for his commercial work, a weak unoriginal story, with Travolta's performance being the only tolerable one. Without even being honored with Bresson's usually memorable action genius.

Not even paying homage to Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction (1994) by giving the "Royale with cheese" an appearance could save this film which tried so desperately to be commercial. From Paris with Love did not become as commercial as it wanted to and should have been -- barely grossing its budget of 52 million. Here is a film that is busy, very busy accomplishing nothing. Men die and we don't care, hardly remembering, and a budget is wasted. This is not a terrible film, there have been much worse. With saying that, all of its brief moments of wit and emotion are lost in a story that we have seen done, in parts, many times before with almost identical characters. No action scene can save a film that is...forgettable. Indeed this is a film that in a day or so I will barely remember.

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