wipes out most of the Asian and Arab population of France in From Paris with Love
, a plotless, pointless shoot 'em up directed by Pierre Morel (Taken
) from a story by Luc Besson. Travolta plays Charlie Wax, a CIA operative sent to Paris to take down drug dealers or anyone who works in a Chinese restaurant or designs dresses or looks at him sideways or might be a terrorist, in this non-sensical ultra-violent R-rated action film that exists only to please those into high body counts.
Besson takes credit for the story, but really there's not much of an actual plot in evidence. I'm guessing that whatever storyline Besson initially came up with, he was able to jot down on a single post-it note. The hows and whys of what's going down on screen aren't nearly as important as the spiffy ways dreamed up to kill off at least 30, 40, maybe even 50 or more - who's counting? - of what I'm assuming are supposed to be bad guys over the course of an hour and a half. Travolta even employs a bazooka at one point to take out a car loaded with a bomb heading straight toward an American diplomatic caravan.
And he's aided - sort of - in all this bloodshed by a desk jockey who longs for the thrill of being a real CIA agent doing real juicy, secret agent stuff. Jonathan Rhys Meyers plays James Reese, the personal aide to the U.S. Ambassador in France, who wants in on the action. His cushy job, nice apartment and gorgeous girlfriend aren't enough of an adrenaline rush, and when he's offered the chance to be Charlie's driver/assistant, he jumps in with both feet. But James is totally out of his element as he soon discovers when Charlie kills busboys and waiters at a Chinese restaurant before peppering the ceiling with bullets causing cocaine to cascade to the floor.
John Travolta and Jonathan Rhys Meyers in 'From Paris with Love.'© Lionsgate Films
Charlie tells James to collect some of the falling coke in a vase for evidence. Why? I'm not sure, but it makes a nice prop for James to cart around for the rest of the movie. And its presence in the next scene allows Charlie to push James into snorting some so he won't come off as a cop to the drug dealers they're about to approach. James' first taste of coke hits him hard, making him see double and sending him into heart-pounding over-drive. And it allows screenwriter Adi Hasak the perfect opportunity to have Charlie explain to James what they're after. The audience absorbs this info the way James processes it - James' confused, coke-addled brain trying to grasp the intricacies of the CIA operation but failing miserably. James doesn't get it, the words don't connect in a logical fashion, and so the audience also won't understand what's actually going on. It's kind of a neat trick in that it means Hasak and director Morel have freed themselves from having to follow a logical plot.
Charlie doesn't abide by any laws, and this is apparently fine with the American and French governments. He's a killing machine who finds his work exhilarating. As Charlie, John Travolta also seems to find a maniacal glee in playing such an unconstrained character. And Rhys Meyers, playing against type as a guy from the Bronx transplanted to France who really wants to be a James Bond type character, appears to be enjoying soaking in the action hero vibe. Although more a mascot than a player, Rhys Meyers' makes for a decent action guy, something he's not usually given the opportunity to play.
John Travolta shoots up France in 'From Paris with Love.'© Lionsgate Films
From Paris with Love
has its moments, and if you are totally fine with lots of bloodshed and not much plot, then it's actually kind of fun. No lessons are learned and From Paris with Love
doesn't try to make any sort of political statements. It's just an unrepentant, violent thriller that doesn't even try to disguise the fact the action doesn't revolve around a coherent plot.
From Paris with Love was directed by Pierre Morel and is rated R for strong bloody violence throughout, drug content, pervasive language and brief sexuality.
Theatrical Release: February 5, 2010
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