From Paris with Love

Year 2010

John Travolta as   Charlie Wax
Jonathan Rhys Meyers   as James Reese
Kasia Smutniak as Caroline
Richard Durden as   Ambassador Bennington  
Director - Pierre Morel
Screenwriter - Adi Hasak
Story Idea - Luc Besson  

From the same guys who brought you Taken comes From Paris with Love. From Paris with Love has as much action as Taken but here, it's all done for fun. Maybe with it's title, it's supposed to be compared to From Russia, with Love, but the two are very different movies. They both have attention grabbing "secret" agents, granted. But where From Russia, with Love actually includes a love story that generates a little pathos for the love interest, the love story in From Paris with Love is a little too "in-your-face" to be joyful and touching.

In fact, starting with the love story, there's a lot wrong with this movie. In a word it's incredible as in "unbelievable". Bodies pile up, the gendarmes of Paris are missing, Reese (Rhys Meyers) takes too long to "get it", the bad guys can't hit dirt with a shovel, and Charlie Wax (Travolta) rarely misses with his shots. Even comic book characters like Batman suffer more than good ol' Charlie Wax.

There are cliches like having to keep someone on a land-line telephone for a certain period of time before being able to trace the call. (Really? Ever hear of SS7 and ANI spills? They're instantenous. In fact, you know the calling number before the phone even rings.) And why was the call in the movie even made? It's pointless to the plot although it does make the antagonist a bit more human.

Yet, the movie as a whole does work. A lot of it has to do with Luc Besson and Adi Hasak who keep the plot twists manageable, the dialog snappy, and the integrity of the movie world intact. Even more credit goes to Travolta. He's tried being the action hero in other movies like Broken Arrow, Face Off, and Swordfish and failed in each one. In this movie, bald head and Fu-Manchu mustache and all, he finally nails it! I finally accepted him as a man of action. His typical Welcome Back, Kotter style of mumbling is missing and he comes off as cool and smooth.

It doesn't hurt that has some good lines, too.

Wax: Wax on, Wax off.

After killing a Chinese hoodlum in a villain's lair.
Reese: How many more of them do you think there are?
Wax: Last census? About a billion.

Wax: Nice work, Reece.
Reese: What's so nice about it?
Wax: How 'bout the fact that he's dead and you're alive.

He doesn't have all of the lines though. In one scene, Wax breaks into an older man's apartment. The old man isn't bothered by the intrusion. In fact, the man asks Wax if he'd like tea. When questioned about his hospitality, the old man says that in the old days, people did the same thing that Wax is now doing. Wax accepts the words and sweeps some of the old man's belongings from a table. The old man says something to the effect of, "Although they weren't as rude back then."

There's also the send-up of Hillary Clinton as a witch (I still can't spell). For those of us who think very little of Hillary Clinton as a Secretary of State, it's pretty funny.

It's an entertaining way to spend an hour-and-a-half. There's some suspense in it even though you know Wax won't get so much as a scratch.

Oh, wait, I almost forgot the plot. Desk rider Reece wants to be a field agent. Wizened bad boy field agent Wax shows up in Paris and opens Reece's eyes about not "following the book" to take out a drug ring and...AND...stop an assassination.

No nudity but lots of profanity. Chick flick potential is about average except for the women who really like Travolta; it's higher for them.

P.S. If you like this, check out Luc Besson's Wasabi. The English version is as much fun as this although if you speak French I'd recommend watching Wasabi in the original tongue. The nearly transparent dubbing isn't as funny as hearing the lines delivered au naturale.

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