Screen Rant’s Paul Young reviews From Paris with Love
After last year’s break out hit Taken, I was hoping director Pierre Morel would come out swinging once more with his next film From Paris with Love. After all, it’s based off a story that Luc Besson wrote and it stars heartthrob Jonathan Rhys Meyers (who was fantastic in The Tudors) and Hollywood action film staple John Travolta. Unfortunately, this film is full of more standard action movie clichés than I could count. I didn’t hate the film but I did find myself yawning and actually got up to use the facilities and wasn’t in a real hurry to get back. Oddly enough, I didn’t miss anything related to the story.
As for the plot, it goes something like this: James Reese (Meyers) is an undercover agent working for some extension of the US government (which is never identified) as a personal aide to the American Ambassador in France. He aspires to be something more than an errand boy, swapping out license plates and planting listening devices and soon gets his chance from “The Voice” on the phone.
His first major assignment is to pick up his new partner, Charlie Wax (Travolta), at French Customs and assist him in his assignment. From there the story goes off the rails and never really gets back on. The pair then go after a Chinese cocaine ring, which somehow leads them to an Indian money laundering outfit which in turns takes them to some Pakistani terrorists. A quick twist here, a couple more clichés there and the movie is over. Oh yeah, and there is a lot of cussing, shooting, things blowing up and a lackluster car chase thrown in for good measure.
The one thing I couldn’t quite understand is why was this set in France? The only French people in the movie are the customs agents and some policemen who get blown up just as soon as they show up on the scene. The good guys are American covert agents, the drug lords are Chinese, the pimps and terrorists are Pakistani and the summit the Ambassador is attending is for Africa. The only landmark shown in the film is the Eiffel Tower and that is literally for one scene and plays no part in the story other than something very minor. There are no mimes, no open markets or no art-filled courtyards. Heck, most of the extras don’t even speak French. This whole story could have easily been set in Thailand, Russia, England or Los Angeles and it wouldn’t have changed the plot one bit.
As for the performances, I was really digging Travolta as the out of control, “my way or the highway” loose cannon on a rampage special agent but it started to get old after about 30 minutes. Travolta is obviously having a good time playing the character and it shows. Ultimately, he is one-dimensional and I found myself getting bored by it. Meyers is no better at portraying his character as a sheepish junior agent who is in over his head and clueless to things going on around him. He also feels his love for his new fiancé is stronger than his duty. Both characters weren’t given much thought and Reese follows Wax around for most of the first act carrying around a big Chinese vase full of cocaine.
Any one or two of these things in the movie wouldn’t normally be enough to make a film ho-hum but the fact that there are six of seven things going wrong, makes it a big letdown. If your girlfriend, for some unexplained reason, doesn’t want to see Dear John this weekend, then I suppose you could watch From Paris with Love instead but really your time might be better spent sharing a milkshake at Johnny Rockets.
Also, for all you Pulp Fiction lovers out there, see if you can spot the nudge-nudge, wink-wink to that film.
From Paris with Love isn’t a complete waste of time but it’s pretty darn close; I’ll just have to wait for Taken 2 for Morel to redeem himself.