Saturday 27 November 2021

Movie Review: From Paris With Love (2010)

A wild action thriller, From Paris With Love rides the manic energy of an untamed John Travolta performance to several satisfying if brain-free highlights.

In Paris, James Reese (Johnathan Rhys Meyers) is an aid to American Ambassador Bennington (Richard Durden), and also a low-level CIA agent eager to get involved in more elaborate operations. His relationship with French girlfriend Caroline (Kasia Smutniak) is going well, and after James successfully bugs the French Foreign Minister's office, he is rewarded with an assignment to assist new-in-town agent Charlie Wax (Travolta).

The bold and brash Wax utilizes unconventional methods involving plenty of firepower, and arrives in Paris seemingly to disrupt a cocaine supply chain. James finds himself cradling a coke-filled vase in the middle of several free-fire zones as Wax bulldozes his way through the criminal underworld, uncovering a dangerous conspiracy.

Once John Travolta enters From Paris With Love about a third of the way into the movie, director Pierre Morel discover a new gear and the action takes off, never to slow down. The initially serious introduction gives way to levity, the Luc Besson story defaulting to a buddy movie with Meyers playing straight man to Travolta's force of nature. Although the messaging is uneven, the frequent noisy shootouts are well staged and Charlie Wax's larger than life presence easily fills the vacuum created by a script not bothering with any sense of credibility.

The bad guys are poorly defined and the conspiracy barely sketched in, and neither Besson nor Morel appear too sure how the story jumps from large quantities of drugs to terrorists plotting suicide bombings. The sketched plot outline only serves as a hanger for charisma-packed action scenes, mostly featuring Wax taking on and mowing down a large number of baddies as Reese tries to stay out of the way.

Highlights include carnage in a restaurant, a street gang caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, and an ascent up a building staircase with frequent falling hazards. By the time the large tank-busting missile launcher comes out to play on the freeway, the ambassador's aid is close to learning that even in Paris, love has no place amongst the big guns.

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