At first glance of Travolta’s character, you would have thought this is Taking of Pelham 123.. 2. He looks exactly the same, minus the glasses. But, alas it is not; From Paris With Love is the latest offering from the French Connection – Pierre Morel and Luc Besson. Their last picture together was the excellent Taken starring Liam Neeson. And in a few ways, it is not too dissimilar to this one.
Opening with establishing/tracking shots of Paris that echo the style of French New Wave, FPWL gets straight to the point. James Reece (Jonathan Rhys Myers AKA Joe from Bend It Like Beckham) is the personal aid of the US Ambassador working in Paris. But he wants more than that, and does side jobs in the hope of becoming a Special Operative. These start out small (switching number plates, planting chips etc) but he is soon thrust into the deep end when his next assignment involves him working with a partner; the larger than life, super human known as Charlie Wax (Travolta). Wax has been sent to France to stop a terrorist ring, and primarily Reece is his driver. But it soon becomes apparent that Wax’s unorthodox methods push him further into danger, and the more he finds out about the terrorists, the more personal it becomes.
After first seeing the trailer, I filed this under ” Potential Guilty Pleasure”… and that’s exactly what it is. Logic is brushed aside and substituted with bullets on many occasions, and the ridiculous narrative is weak. But so what? It was never meant to win any Oscars, and the sole purpose is to ENTERTAIN. Well, entertain and to make money, but it failed at that in America, pulling in only $8 million from a budget of $52 million. It certainly didn’t fail to entertain me though. The gun fights are excellently choreographed, over the top nonsense that fans of Shoot ‘Em Up and almost any buddy-cop movie (Lethal Weapon, 48hrs etc) will love.
What really makes this film worthwhile though is Charlie Wax. His smart-ass comebacks are hilarious at times, and he genuinely seems unbeatable. Although nothing really new, the tough/weak partner coupling between Travolta and Myers works well here, mainly because they look the part. Like I said, Travolta looks like he could tear through 4 telephone directories in one rip, whereas Myers looks like he’d struggle opening one. What I did find irritating about Myers though is his shockingly bad American accent. He started the movie with trying much too hard to be American, then just seems to give up half way through and have a bland, accentless voice.
Because it gets straight to the point, it is a relatively short film (as is Taken); both of their run times clock in under 90 minutes. But any longer and this would have seriously dragged. The large amount of action sequences (some being incredibly violent, this being another similarity to Taken) did become a little tiresome, and the climax felt more like a regular scene (I believe that final scenes should try and stand out from the rest of the movie: it is where everything comes to a head, and problems are resolved). The “twist” was blatantly obvious from the start, but it didn’t matter because this is hardly going to go down in history as a twist that compares to The Usual Suspects or The Sixth Sense.
Nevertheless, From Paris With Love is “No-Brain-Needed”, fun, explosive entertainment which is predominantly aimed at males. I cannot stress enough that there is no logic here, neither was there meant to be. Based on my friends opinion, this is going to be a “marmite” movie; he hated it, and even said it’s the worst film of the year. The only “worst” title of the year this will take is the “Worst Pulp Fiction reference of the year”. What’s more, it has set the standards for this years movie taglines with the ingenious:
Two Agents. One City. No Merci.
Now that’s gotta be enough to persuade you to watch it. Right?