From Paris With Love

From Paris With Love

Film review by: Witney Seibold

Upon reflection, I almost feel like I’ve seen this movie before. The story is so familiar. I can’t pinpoint any films it so closely resembles that it would warrant the comparison in writing, but every detail almost seemed like a familiar conceit. Perhaps that may be appealing to some; banality can be charming, just look at slasher movies. For me, I was hoping for more. This is one of those films that reduces you, when explaining it to friends, to describing the few good things about it.

The good things: Jonathan Rhys Meyers plays an American, and actually gives the role many small impressive flourishes that make his a delight to watch. Seeing “From Paris With Love” made me realize how much he’s actually capable of. He never dropped accent. The director Pierre Morel (“Taken,” “District B13”) shot this film with an increasingly talented eye toward chases and action. The action is, to be sure, stylized, and is unfortunately bogged down with a lot of thrill-deadening CGI, but it’s not so horrible offender of this technique that the film became unclear. I liked the scene with the exploding vest dropped on the car, and there’s a pleasingly baffling extended sequence where a character must carry around an urn full of cocaine.

Luc Besson, the film’s famous co-writer, still hasn’t been able to construct a really cogent story, though. This film: Meyers plays an embassy office wonk who wants more than anything to be a big-time spy guy. He lives with his French fiancée (Kasia Smuniak). As per his pleading, he is paired up with an American partner named Charlie Wax (John Travolta), who is a hard-fightin’, hard-swearin’, quick-tempered, peacock-like asshole with a shaved head and a Dutch-Boy-black goatee. Wax spends the movie essentially dragging his newbie partner around Paris, shooting and killing with no clear purpose until about a third of the way through the film. Evidently is has something to do with terrorists.

I don’t want to give anything away, but there is an assassination attempt, and, when given any sort of thought, it’s one of those stories that seems to have way too many helpful coincidences. How did that character know that was going to happen? How did they time that just right? If that one thing didn’t work, how did they know to then do that other thing?

Travolta should not play this kind of crazy. He’s best when he’s playing calm and collected and kind of smarmy. He has a charm that he should be able to bank upon. When he’s sniffing recently fired guns, and looking with a wicked indifference at the man he just killed, he seems… off. What’s more, at least in this film, he seems uncomfortable with some of the swear words. He struggles with “motherfucker.” Who can play this kind of crazy better? Nicolas Cage.

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Published in: on February 18, 2010 at 3:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

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