From Paris With Love

James Reece (Meyers) is personal aide to the US Ambassador in Paris. He’s also low-level CIA and secretly fancies himself as a bit of James Bond type. Then Charlie Wax (Travolta) is sent to the city of love to take out a terrorist cell and Reece is given the chance to prove himself in the field. Unfortunately for the nervous desk jockey, Wax is a shoot-first-don’t-even-bother-asking-questions-just-make-hilarious-quips kinda guy, and before he knows it Reece is carrying a huge vase full of cocaine round the city.

Aaand we’re back in the ’80s. This is the sort of ‘high octane’ buddy cop action thriller that I thought Hollywood had grown out of, but apparently there’s a revival going on. Pierre Morel, who directed the Liam Neeson film Taken, is back in his hometown and with the help of Luc Besson (although not quite enough, frankly) has put together a half-decent film. But that’s all it is, unfortunately.

Travolta is less caricature and more cartoon character which is fine up to a point because actually, all the while it’s being played for laughs it works quite well. The action is frenetic i.e. everything happens at such a pace you can’t see what’s going on, and the flashy weaponry and high body count will doubtless give boners to the kind of people who like that sort of thing. Fairly early on there’s a hint that this will have a bit more depth, or certainly an attempt at providing some sort of emotional punch but it’s quickly forgotten and the mindless violence (all in the name of good, of course) continues apace.

Meyers does a decent American accent and is fine as the on-screen audience representative and wisely doesn’t try to compete with Travolta’s lunatic Wax, who to be fair is good value throughout. His charisma is what really carries the movie and when he’s not there it all feels a bit dreary. Kasia Smutniak as Reece’s fiancée Caroline fulfils her role adequately but isn’t given much to play with either in terms of character or dialogue.

But where From Paris With Love really falls apart is at the climax where there’s a disastrous attempt to inject some humanity into proceedings. Thanks to the near constant shooting and wisecracks we’ve had no reason or even opportunity to get emotionally involved in the characters so this last-ditch attempt is at best risible and at worst a downright insult to the intelligence. If Morel had had the courage of his convictions and simply turned it into a comic strip of a movie, it would have worked out fine. Instead, it’s a laughable conclusion to an otherwise broadly entertaining if utterly brainless romp.

Official Site
From Paris With Love at IMDb

Justin Bateman is a Screenjabber contributor

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