DVD Review: From Paris With Love

From Paris with Love
DVD | Blu-ray
Directed by Pierre Morel
Starring John Travolta, Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Release Date: June 8, 2010

The ruin of From Paris With Love is caused by nothing other than its having relied on mindless and exaggerated action for the entire film. The title alone suggestions an early James Bond film with the same characteristics of mindlessness. Take out the action and what is left is a thing (can’t even call it a movie) of empty sounds. Director Pierre Morel, from a script by Adi Hasak, shows his incompetency in his inability to construct a cohesive film. His attention to the film’s plot is neglected, simply gathering ideas from numerous of other action films and employing them within his. Rather, he finds attention in the film’s many action sequences, all used up to the point of exhaustion. Finding any semblance of probability in the film can be a forlorn task because there isn’t any. What surprisingly drives the film, though, from start to finish is its unmatched reliance on the action scenes, all in which, paradoxically, keep the movie from succeeding and failing at the same time.

There is an extreme inefficiency in the film’s competence to construct the lowest plausibility factor available. It is a violent impetuosity of bombardment that guiltily works us over with time. But within that time frame we know soon enough that we are watching a film of ultimate futility, making sense of nothing and having no second thoughts about its inability to construct something that has the smallest grain of resonance. There are times where it unconsciously implies disdain rather than the coolness and heroism it is aiming for. Still, Morel’s passion for extreme action keeps the movie moving at a well paced time, never stepping outside of his continuous harmony.

Striving to make it to the top of his profession, a clean-cut James Reece (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is currently the personal assistant to the U.S. ambassador of France, but is also secretly responding to an unknown man who gives James C.I.A. style missions. Of course he is hiding that latter part from his soon to be French wife (Kasia Smutniak) because we all know that secret agents are not, I repeat, are not allowed to discuss their field of work with anybody!

While most of his missions have minute severity, there comes one that can catapult him to the top of the ladder while placing him smack in the middle of danger. This means dealing with Charlie Wax (John Travolta), a world renowned secret agent in his own right who is praiseworthy for his hyper attitude just as much as his trigger-happy fingers. Charlie appears in France due to a situation of grave importance (I stress the word “grave”) that can threaten the lives of certain political people. James’ job is to make hardships disappear for Charlie, even if that means him getting a little dirty along the way.

Without Travolta’s menacingly comic hitman the movie would without a doubt lack the where withal for life. He coasts by on his own feelings and actions. His contribution to the film, offering vitality and unmatched coolness, brings out a side of Travolta that was last seen in Pulp Fiction. For such a character as he presents, the film isn’t in conjecture with his dominating presence and smooth coolness. Instead there is a shortage of compelling material, making the movie out to be only a one man show with the only accompaniment coming from inanimate objects: artillery.

The brevity of the narrative is due to Morel’s ineptness to make it as flashy and abundant as the film’s action scenes are. Explosions and rapid weapons firing at a non-stop pace can only go so far. In Morel’s case they go as far as the film goes, kind of resembling how his previous film Taken unfolded. Once we are swept away on this thrill ride, after the opening credits that resemble the opening to the French New Wave classic The 400 Blows, there is no escaping it because the film knows of no moderation. Adhering to no form of script can be detrimental to a film’s framework, but with a film like From Paris With Love we can let that slide somewhat thanks to Morel’s blatantly passionate vision of danger and Travolta’s portrayal of being the essence of hitman coolness.

Special Features

Audio commentary with director Pierre Morel

The Making of “From Paris with Love:” 26 mins; Screenwriter Hasak and director Morel discuss how they contacted the film’s executive producer Luc Besson and got the film to be made.

Spies, Spooks and Special Ops- Life Under Cover: 16 mins; Discussion arises by some spy experts about the spy’s primary missions.

Secrets of Spy Craft – Inside the International Spy Museum: 4 mins; By far the disc’s best feature; Presents to us a tour of the Washington D.C. museum that houses an array of secret weapons and gadgets created by a multitude of secret spy groups and agents (the ancient Greeks, KGB and Benjamin Franklin).

Theatrical Trailer

MOVIE: ** out of ****
Special Features: **1/2 out of ****

VERDICT: Action fans only and those who went to see Travolta unleashed!

1 Comment »

  1. Well you certainly got the thesaurus out for that one. Seeing the trailer was enough to let me know not to take this movie seriously and enjoy what it is in the same nature as other movies of similar tastes. It’s interesting how suddenly people feel that a mindless action movie should have some deeper meaning. What happened to Die Hard? Anyways, I digress. I went into the movie expecting the same pointless action as I received in what could be considered Travolta’s last great action movie: Broken Arrow. Rhys Meyers does well to channel some early Christen Slater and plays a decent counter part to how Travolta should have been in Swordfish: pretty crazy but still somehow likable even when he screws a French hooker. Yes there were plot holes and completely useless emotionally heavy scenes, but why does every movie that comes out now days have to channel the deepest level of emotions and sympathy in the characters we watch? What happened to just enjoying some shit blowing up? I mean aside from Travolta having to cover his gut in the same manner as Segal, I found the action to be pretty decent. It’s sort of a disservice to go into a movie of this nature expecting some sort of perfect inner struggle with the nature of man or whatever it is people expect out of mindless action movies now days. Go watch Syriana or something. Put this on the shelf next to Crank 1 & 2 and enjoy it for what it was: Stupid and awesome in it’s inability to be anything but a dumb action movie.

    Comment by TopHatPainter — July 12, 2010 @ 2:43 pm

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