Thursday, February 4, 2010

From Paris With Love Review

YEAAAAA BABY!! It’s time for some razamatastic spyclassic action with your host…JOHN TRAVOLTA!!! Yay. Ever watched a movie and wished your action was served up with a side order of ACTION?! Is the lead spy in your movie so boring that he never sings or uses the word Motherfucker? Ever wanted to know just how hard it is to blow up a single car with a handheld rocket launcher and wished someone would film a 15 minute sequence about it? Most importantly, have you ever dreamed of what Chris Tucker would be like as a large white dude with a goatee? All your questions and dreams are fulfilled in From Paris With Love this weekend!!

James Reece (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is a secret agent posing as an aide to a US Ambassador in France. When he isn’t doing exciting, menial tasks in his cover job, he’s doing slightly more intense jobs for the government…like swapping license plates on spy cars. With a wish for a more fulfilling assignment on his lips and a dream of fighting the good fight in his heart, in walks Charlie Wax (Travolta); jive talkin’, singing, head bobbing super secret agent who takes Reece for the ride of his life. See, Wax has his OWN set of rules and it starts with shooting first, then moving onto another location to shoot first. Reece spends most of the film chasing after him.

Early on, it’s established that Reece is madly in love with his girlfriend Caroline (Kasia Smutniak). So much time is spent laying this down that you half expect her to drive away and blow up in the first scene. NOT SO! For all the action movie conventions Paris is guilty of mimicking, that is not one of them. The sound beating over your head with these scenes does factor in further down the line. Until it surfaces, becoming the actual coherent parts of this film (AKA The Plot), we watch Charlie Was shove his guns in people’s faces, blow away the bad guys and drag along Reece like a puppy …with a gun. Some of these moments are enjoyable. Most are things we’ve seen countless times in other films and others are obviously only set up because it would look cool. The bottom line is this. If you LOVE Travolta and all his antics, then you will love this movie. Travolta can’t help being Travolta and in this film, NO ONE tries to stop him. If you aren’t into the over the top performances, wide eyed soliloquies on being a spy and all around silly nature of this sort of performance, then you’ll find yourself groaning until you can’t take the pain any longer, looking for the ejector button on your theater seat. If all you wanted was to hear him say “Royale with Cheese” one more time, you’ve got the trailer for that.

As stated, Travolta is 100% Travolta as seen in Face Off and Look Who’s Talking. In fact, if you combine those performances with a little Pulp Fiction, you’ve got Charlie Wax. That said, you can’t tell if his acting is “good” in this film because you can’t tell if he’s acting or not. Travolta does have his moments when he’s not mugging it up, and for those few minutes, I thank him. Meyers, on the other hand, seems to have been told to look slightly ill for the majority of the film and to that task, he steps up wonderfully. Having been given a pencil thin mustache for his character does not help matters. Travolta’s oddly supernatural goatee would snap that mustache in half. In fact, the goat is so powerful; it could probably take on Nick Cage’s hair from Ghostrider. Now THAT’S an action movie I’d like to see. Perhaps, animated…by Pixar. The stand out performance goes to Smutniak with her Caroline, whose “plot twist that shall not be named” is pretty surprising, even when you know its coming.

Stylistically speaking, there is nothing that stands out in this film. Bullets fly, collateral damage is rampant, some cars explode and single person action items often slow down so you can FEEL Travolta’s raw manliness. I will give three thumbs up for the stunt coordinator on one car chase scene. If Wax’s driver had been a character all through the film, we would have something to cheer about! From Paris With Love is a paper thin premise latching onto the paranoia of our times. It’s not even worth mentioning an antagonist in this film since so little time is spent introducing the viewer to them, much less explaining what they are doing and why they are doing it. By the time their plan is in full swing and they let you in on these facts, the movie is over. Poof.

If you just hit the movies to see things flash and explode and are able to stomach all manor of bad banter between “secret agents”, then buy those tickets. Forget the plot, the direction, cinematography or even a glimmer of hope that a rocking sound track lies underneath it all. To Paris With Love is a complete flatline with no redeeming moments at all. Is it worse than the baddest of the bad of 2009? Oddly, no, but do we now judge a flawed film on its ability to hurt you? Paris may be more of a groan that a shriek of pain...but to be sure, it is a waste of time.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Most of the people that have seen this movie said that it was great.

  3. Not the reviews I've read. Did you see Roger Ebert's?

  4. No I haven't, but I will read it now.
    Anyway, It will be interesting to read imdb user comments this weekend. I think the rating of this movie will be above 7 (At least, I hope it will be).