Sunday, February 7, 2010

FROM PARIS WITH LOVE (2010) - 3/5 stars

From Paris With Love 03

Release: February 2010

Director: Pierre Morel

Writer: Adi Hasak (screenplay), Luc Besson (story)

Actors: John Travolta, Jonathan Rhys Meyers

Soundtrack: David Buckley

Claim to fame: John Travolta with a shaved head + goatee, finding new variations on the term "motherfucker," bloody action scenes, lame call-backs to "Pulp Fiction"

Rating: 3/5 stars

A year after their surprise hit (and the surprisingly good) "Taken," producer Luc Besson and director Pierre Morel return with another European-set action flick designed to make Americans feel good about the War on Terror. But this time instead of a bad-ass Liam Neeson trying to rescue his daughter, we've got John Travolta-as-Freddie Mercury and the former Maxwell Demon trying to stop a bonafide terrorist plot. Somehow it works.

From Paris With Love 01

"Hey, 'Pulp Fiction' DVD residuals

don't pay as much as you'd think, man."

Jonathan Rhys Meyers spends the entire movie trying to maintain his American accent ("Huh-lo?" is how he answers the phone) but I suppose the nasal-y tone fits his brow-nosing character and, thankfully, Meyers and Travolta have honest to God chemistry onscreen. The first 15 minutes or so are one of those painfully limp first acts where every scene is perfunctory, but once Travolta is introduced as Charlie Wax the movie never lets up. It's literally Travolta taking Meyers on a tour of the seediest parts of Paris, dispatching Chinese and Pakistani gangsters and terrorists along the way in bloodily-staged shoot-outs and fisticuffs.

From Paris With Love 02

Wanna know what's in the vase? You'll have to see the movie!

In this flick the plot is delivered while Meyers is undergoing a drug-induced hallucination so that the characters don't have to worry about it, let alone the audience. Although there's plenty of laughs to go around - Travolta gets all the best dialogue, except for Meyers' inspired delivery of "What does it look like I'm doing? I'm charging my fucking cell!" - but fortunately the humor doesn't detract from the hard edged, rated-R violence.

From Paris With Love 04

This always happens when Travolta tries to pick up his Chinese takeout

"From Paris With Love" is perhaps the first of its kind: not a buddy cop movie but a buddy anti-terrorist agent movie. Besson and Morel seem to have found their niche; in today's uncertain post-9/11 world where the Iraq war, CIA torture tactics, and military contractors threaten to mar America's self-esteem, these two Frenchman have realized they can make millions by producing slick action flicks that are all about reassuring Americans.

From Paris With Love 06

"Wait, what do you mean you never saw 'Look Who's Talking'?"

The message, in-between all the explosions, is this: yes, our methods may be somewhat questionable (Wax isn't afraid to sniff coke or bang a hooker) but everybody relax - we're the good guys. And as long as the terrorists are out there - and they are - they're the ones who should be afraid. 'Cause they're about to get Waxed.

From Paris With Love 05

Wax on, Wax off

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