FROM PARIS WITH LOVE (C+)
I would like to start by thanking Andrew, a promoter for Lionsgate Entertainment, for giving me the opportunity to see a promotional screening last Thursday at the Mall of America. The Lionsgate staff showed hospitality and enthusiasm to pump up the audience with their promotional drawings and generated buzz for the upcoming showing. It was a rewarding experience to see the movie a week early and get a chance to be around the Lionsgate promotion crew.
Now on to the movie itself. The synopsis of From Paris With Love surrounds a young government employee named James Reece (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) looking to move up in the world and join the CIA to become a field agent in the middle of all the action. He is elated when he is called into a senior level mission to partner with an agent from America named Charlie Wax (Travolta). Together they are assigned to take down a local drug ring in Paris. After busting (I should say murdering) the drug lords they discover just how deep the rabbit hole goes uncovering a conspiracy against the government.
This is the latest project from the aging and fading star of John Travolta. His projects over the years have gotten progressively mediocre or bad to the point where he is almost not seen as a respectable actor anymore (i.e. Wild Hogs, Battlefield Earth, The Punisher, Be Cool, Taking of Pelham 123, Old Dogs, and soon to be Wild Hogs 2). Not all those movies are bad (though none are good), but I hate Travolta's characters in each of those projects. This movie does not boost his resume. What is it with him and this bald headed look (Pelham 123)? I'm not sure who made the call to have his character bald and feature a grotesque earring, but it was a bad one. He looks like a worse version of Dr. Evil.
Charlie Wax not being satisfying is not entirely Travolta's fault (though he did read the script and chose the project). Screenwriter Adi Hasak could not figure out how to make an uncontrollable assassin seem realistic without having Wax say Motherf***er 24 times throughout the movie. Hasak tried so hard to give the movie suspense and plots twists but for the most part it just comes out the other end as corny. He substitutes the story and plot development for action, and more action.
I will commend the directing from Pierre Morel (Taken) who created plenty of exhilarating action sequences. Though the action got overbearing because it was essentially the plot, Morel never let the endless gun shoot outs get tiring and made each one different. The resounding noise of the firing guns were some of the loudest sound effects I have ever heard.
Overall, From Paris With Love is a cataclysm of loud perfectly timed and choreographed action coupled with cheesy cliche action movie dialogue (though there are some laughs). For a movie with Paris in the title we hardy ever get to see the city at all. The plot itself has plenty of potential to be a success but that effort is snuffed out by minimal personalization of characters and action scenes piled on top of each other until the audience is numb to anything but constant gunfire.
Don't get me wrong, the action involved was very good at times; but that was pretty much all the movie had going for it. The murderous action is the only dominant piece of narrative and throughout the movie I kept asking myself: "Do I really believe John Travolta's cussing trigger happy character?"
It's entertaining, but not worth anything more than a matinee showing. If you are an oddball (you like Travolta's recent work) or love non stop action, then don't miss out.