Theatrical Review: From Paris With Love

Well, February looks like it’s seeing the resurgence of the buddy action movie with both the releases From Paris With Love and Cop Out. When I saw the trailer for From Paris With Love I just thought that it looked like it could be a fun little diversion, but nothing real special (I wish I could say the same thing about Cop Out, in which every time I see the trailer for that, I cringe just a little more and feel just a little bad that Kevin Smith is making an “Ow! My Balls!” type of comedy by choice- it may be a good movie, but based on it’s trailer, the only way you could get me in the theatre to see it is to tie me to the chair with my eyes pried open like McDowell in Clockwork, but I digress…). In fact, the weather had the potential to be really bad here in St. Louis this weekend, and it looked like there was a chance that it was going to interfere with seeing From Paris With Love and I was pretty much prepared to write it off if that was the case…

Fortunately, the weather turned out to be not bad at all and I did get to see From Paris With Love and man, I’m glad I did.

From Paris With Love is the latest movie from producer Luc Besson and director Pierre Morel who last year gave us Taken (which I haven’t seen yet, though that will change later tonight) and it’s one very entertaining ride.

James Reece is an American in Paris working as the assistant to the United States’ ambassador in France. He performs all of the mundane tasks for the ambassador and makes sure he’s ready to carry out his duties for the day. But Reece is much more, he’s also a lower level espionage operative who performs preparatory tasks for other operatives and he does them really well. He has ambitions to move up in that aspect of his job. He’s also a young man in love and has just become engaged to his girlfriend in Paris, and as he’s ready to celebrate with her, he gets a call that’s going to give him his opportunity to move up, by assisting one of the best operatives the U.S. has in one unorthodox agent named Charlie Wax…

That’s all I’m going to say about the story here, and while there’s nothing really new that’s done here, what is done is done really well and it’s pretty obvious (or at least it was to me) that all concerned were having a hell of a time making this movie. The action is top notch, the character’s are engaging, and while there are aspects to the story a that are a little over-the-top, it’s not in a way that I didn’t want to go on the ride with the film. One of the things that helps with that is the movie’s brisk pace, which certainly puts our heroes in some rough situations that makes them bond pretty quickly and certainly made me watching this give a damn about them.

the other thing that helps is the fact that you have two actors as capable as John Travolta and Jonathan Rhys-Meyers in the lead roles and their chemistry is really nice. Rhys-Meyers plays James Reece, and he’s pretty stoic in the part, but also pretty engaging. He’s our doorway into this story, and he does a nice job with it. John Travolta… well, I have to say, when I first saw the trailer for this, I did a double take when I realized this was John Travolta as he certainly looks quite a bit different than he has in most of his movies, with his clean-shaven head, and by the trailer, you get the feeling that his Charlie Wax is going to be a wild character, and one that could’ve worked negatively for me. The thing is, when we’re introduced to Wax, he does seem like he’s going to be an unlikeable guy, but by about a half hour in, I was fully taken with him and it’s real evident in Travolta’s performance. You can sort’ve tell when an actor is really having a good time with a part and it’s all over Travolta’s performance here, whether it’s in his line delivery or his genuine joy in the action scenes, it’s there and it’s infectious.

It really is a fun ride, far more entertaining than I thought it was going to be and by it’s end, I was ready to see Wax and Reece together again in another adventure and thinking back to other buddy action movies that I’ve seen, I hadn’t really felt like that since being introduced to Riggs and Murtaugh in Lethal Weapon. and that’s a pretty high compliment to pay to From Paris With Love. This one really took me by surprise and I enjoyed every minute of it. Now I can’t wait to see Taken later tonight…

About Darren Goodhart

Darren Goodhart is a 44-year old St. Louis-based Graphic Designer and Illustrator (and former comic book artist) who's been seeing movies all his life, but on an almost weekly basis in theatres for the last 20 years and owns nearly 1,000 DVDs for his home theatre. He's learned a lot about film over the 20 year period, and has taken his appreciation beyond the mainstream. His favorite types of film are mostly genre entertainment, but he also enjoys a wide range of drama, action and cult-y stuff from around the world, and is currently re-discovering a love affair with lower budget exploitation and genre films from the 70s and early 80s. He doesn't try to just dismiss any film, but if there's a bias against one, he'll certainly tell you that in the space of his reviews.

07. February 2010 by Darren Goodhart
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