Movie Review: From Paris with Love
By Matthew Huntley
February 9, 2010
From Paris with Love doesn't bring one unique scene to its already small table. It's a B-level action movie, nothing more, nothing less. Watching it is like drinking water when you're not thirsty. In other words, it has no noticeable effect.
And yet, I'm not particularly sour at the movie. I don't think it's overtly bad per se, but in a time when Hollywood is constantly raising the bar on action, something as bland as From Paris with Love inevitably gets lost in the shuffle.
As with any mindless action movie (and this is about as mindless as they come), From Paris with Love contains a simple-minded plot that exists merely to hang extravagant shoot-outs, high speed car chases and loud explosions, none of which are terribly inspired. Jonathan Rhys Meyers plays Reese, the assistant to the U.S. ambassador in Paris, France. Reese is actually training for the CIA, performing small jobs here and there, but he hasn't officially made the cut. His biggest test comes when he's partnered up with Charlie Wax (John Travolta), a loose canon with a bald head, dark goatee and Mr. Clean-type earring (these qualities are usually dead giveaways for loose canons). Reese and Wax's job is to take down a band of terrorists aiming to place a suicide bomber in the middle of an African peace summit.
Like I said, the plot is simple-minded. We get moderate back story on our heroes, but we know next to nothing about the villains. What country are they from? What is their cause? Who funds them? Now I'm asking too many questions. I often forget Hollywood doesn't feel the need to provide such answers as long as the bad guys are called "terrorists." The details aren't important.
Once the plot sets in motion, the movie relentlessly dishes out one formulaic action scene after another, but we don't really care about them because the story elements are so thin and the action itself is by-the-numbers. How many times have we seen a shootout in a Chinese restaurant where the bad guys always stand in front of glass, only to eventually fall into it? And how often has a fight scene been filmed in a darkly lit, dusty warehouse with mannequins all around?
The attempted humor of John Travolta as the reckless agent and Jonathan Rhys Meyers as the conservative straight-man did nothing for me. I even cringed at Travolta's line about Big Macs. The director is Pierre Morel, who made the overrated Taken, but I'm not sure he knew what kind of movie he was making this time - a buddy cop farce? A serious action picture (what's with the speech about love at the end)?
But there I go asking questions again about a movie that doesn't care to answer them. It seems From Paris with Love can only be enjoyed by die-hard action fans who won't mind they've seen this material hundreds of time before. Still, with that said, at least the movie didn't leave a bad taste in my mouth, and as conventional as every scene was, I didn't walk away angry. This isn't a painful movie to sit through; it just doesn't leave any lasting impression. If anyone made a check list for what a B action movie should have, From Paris with Love would meet all the requirements. It's just a shame none of those requirements are entertaining.