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From Paris with Love (2010)

Rating: 6/10

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15

Director Pierre Morel’s last film, Taken, was more of a cerebral action thriller—maybe it was just the Liam Neeson of it—and it seemed like a much more well-oiled machine than this mess of explosions and quips and guns. Travolta is no Neeson—nor should he be—because his campy, maniacal bald cop is all kinds of fun, and even in the somewhat tired genre of wild agent meets tame agent, there’s just enough here to keep audience interest up.

James Reece (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) doesn’t have so bad of a life. He lives in Paris, he’s got a decent job, a beautiful girlfriend who likes to sew her own clothes, and he’s making his way up the CIA ladder. Then he gets a career-changing assignment—pair up with crazy top agent Charlie Wax (John Travolta), with his first order of business being to get him out of customs and in to Paris. It all gets wilder after that, and soon Reece’s whole concept of his life and work are turned upside down by drug selling Pakistanis on a mission he never expected.

So, a lot of goofy events occur in From Paris With Love, and if you’re going to enjoy the movie, you just have to go along for the ride. Travolta is cheesy and hammy as Wax, and Rhys Meyers seems a little split personality as the not-so-spylike Reece. His sometimes incompetence is kind of a refreshing break from the plethora of super spies and agents blowing stuff up these days (loved the scene with the bug in the office), and when he DOES manage to do something right, we cheer alongside Charlie. There’s nothing subtle about this movie that really would have been better for a summer theater release, and between the cocaine coming from the ceiling and the ever-changing list of alliances and villains, it’s not so much that you need to think a lot as you need to just keep listening and not blink for too long. The ending leaves a lot to be desired, even for a film where suspension of disbelief is a crucial prerequisite, and though there’s not much that’s more of an action flick iconic moment than a dude speeding down the freeway toting a rocket launcher, Reece’s (and Rhys Meyers’s) reaction to some of the climactic events seems off-puttingly unrealistic. So ignore that part and enjoy the rocket launcher.

It's Got: Good Travolta, Fun scenes with a vase of cocaine, A “Pulp Fiction” Royale with Cheese reference

It Needs: A better resolution, More consistency with Rhys Meyers, Reece to feel like he cared

DVD Extras Audio Commentary from director Pierre Morel, “From Paris With Love Making-Of” featurette, “Spies, Spooks, and Special Ops: Life Under Cover” (featurette about real spies), “Secrets of Spycraft: Inside the International Spy Museum” (featurette about said museum) DVD Extras Rating: 5/10


We’ve seen it before, but this action flick is a quick, funny watch, due mostly to a masterfully ridiculous performance by Travolta, that only sags a little at the end.