Saturday, August 21, 2010

From Paris With Love

Directed by Pierre Morel.
2010. Rated R, 93 minutes.
John Travolta
Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Kasia Smutniak
Richard Durden
Eric Godon
Yin Bing
Rebecca Dayan
Amber Rose Revah

James Reece (Meyers) is not only the personal assistant to the U.S. Ambassador to France, he has a side-gig as a low-level CIA op. In an effort to advance with the agency he accepts an assignment to partner with Charlie Wax (Travolta). He’s told this mostly entails driving Wax around Paris. Travolta talking loudly, dropping “mf” bombs in most sentences and killing lots and lots of people ensues.

I’ve no problem with over the top, non-stop action movies. After all, I went through puberty nurtured by movies starring Schwarzenegger, Stallone and Segal. If I were still fifteen, I’d probably love FPWL. Unfortunately, I’m not, so I don’t.

Violence for violence sake does not a great movie make. Films with all manner of brutality work best when they seem organic to the plot, even if there’s a gratuitous amount. At the very least, the action scenes are linked by dialogue and circumstances that lead to the action. Here, there’s no plot to speak of so it’s all pointlessly violent. It’s also not nearly smart enough to pull off the trick of being pointless and still enjoyable like the Crank movies.

Even Travolta’s speech is violent. It’s meant to be funny, but it’s not anything of the sort. Travolta just barks at his partner, dropping in a lot of “mf”bombs just like I said earlier, and often questioning Reece’s manhood, or at least his toughness. Then he shouts some directions at him and the two men drive to another location where Travolta kills everyone in the vicinity. Pointless.

Back to that so-called plot. It has the distinct feel of being made up as filming went along. It twists and turns in a manner that doesn’t so much lead us to action as it does make an excuse for it. It holds together about as well as a training bra on Jennifer Love Hewitt. Pointless.

There were two things that gave me small enjoyment. One is the friend of James’ fiancée. Her name is Nichole and she is played by Amber Rose Revah. I happen to think she’s quite pleasant to gaze upon. Of course, her time on screen is cut short in graphic fashion. The other is a blatant reference to Travolta’s role in Pulp Fiction. It was hardly subtle, but I grinned, nonetheless. Too bad, even that was ruined by them doing it twice, pointlessly.

Admittedly, a lot of the action is done well and is even fun to watch in “Did you see that?” sort of way. But we don’t care one bit about what’s actually going on. All that action simply degenerates into a lot of noise. To quote the great William Shakespeare, it’s “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Allow me to translate that bit of olde English for you: pointless.

The Opposite View: Stephen Holden, New York Times

What the Internet Says: 6.4/10 on (8/20/10), 37% on, 42/100 on

MY SCORE: 4.5/10

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