From Paris With Love
Morel’s last film, Taken, had the good sense to cast Liam Neeson, an actor with gravitas, in the underwritten lead role of a father seeking justice. Sadly, in From Paris With Love, he’s not been so lucky. His two leads, Jonathan Rhys Meyers and John Travolta, have never really been famed for their subtlety and nuance, and nowhere is that clearer than in this Parisian shoot-em-up. Ironically, it is Travolta’s frothy madness and wide-eyed ravings which turn out to be the guilty pleasure of From Paris With Love, an otherwise dumb action adventure that clumsily pilfers scenes from the Bourne trilogy.
Cast as a renegade US operative with a twitchy trigger finger, the Oscar nominated star of Saturday Night Fever and Pulp Fiction is the one member of cast to treat Adi Hasak‘s script with the disdain it deserves. And, in a cute nod to former glories, his remarkably athletic agent also gets to share his love of the local gastronomic delights. “Here, the locals call my vice a Royale with cheese”; he grins, barely resisting an urge to wink playfully at the camera. Government agent James Reese (Meyers) is desperate to impress the powers that be, and graduate from his current position as an ambassadorial aide. He gets his chance when he is asked to help Charlie Wax (Travolta) pass through Parisian customs and complete his secret anti-terrorism peace mission. Unexpectedly partnered with a fast-talking stranger who turns out to be a gun-toting lunatic, James struggles to understand what his role in the mission might be as Charlie shoots anyone and everyone in his path. In the process, James acquires a vase full of cocaine and an incredibly tall tale to impart to his doting, (and extremely dull) seamstress girlfriend, Carolina (Kasia Smutniak).
Good Cop/Bad Cop? Dull Cop/Mad Cop.
From Paris With Love is nonsense from lacklustre start to pyrotechnic laden finish, hinging weakly on the non-existent chemistry between the two male leads. Buddy movies demand sharp comic timing, and a clearly defined narrative arc for the characters from distrust and irritation to mutual admiration. Morel’s film has none of these qualities, leaving Travolta to blast each location to smithereens as a spectacularly wooden Rhys Meyers pouts in the background. The younger man fails to kindle a single spark of sexual attraction to Smutniak, and his pivotal scene, a heartfelt monologue about the power of love, is utterly excruciating. Our French farewell to James and Charlie cannot come soon enough. Mon Dieu.