Throughout Pierre Morel’s From Paris with Love, I was constantly reminded of two films from last year: Terminator Salvation and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. Now if you’ve seen either of those two films (both of which got dishonorable mentions on my list of worst films of the year), you know that this can’t possibly be a good thing.
As for why I was reminded of those films, take a look at a brief synopsis: James Reece (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is an ambassador’s top aide, but wants to get into more covert work. He is eventually assigned a partner, Charlie Wax (John Travolta), who has come to Paris to carry out a mission. What’s the mission? Well, there’s something about Chinese cocaine dealers, Pakistani terrorists, and an eventual attack on a delegation.
Of course, all of this includes killing all enemies in sight, leaving only brief moments to explain what just happened. The big problem that the filmmakers didn’t take into consideration is that none of it is the least bit coherent. Here’s where Terminator Salvation came into play. This film is exactly like it in terms of being one long action sequence with basically no semblance of a coherent plot.
It attempts to jump from one thing to another in hopes that the audience won’t care that there’s no plot being followed, thinking they won’t care as long as there are continuous actions sequences strung very loosely together. Most of the film consists of John Travolta’s character versus a roomful of people that he systematically shoots/punches until there is no one left standing but him. This gets quite dull after the third or fourth time it happens, especially since there is practically nothing tying one action scene to the next.
The final action scenes regarding the attack on the delegation are also randomly thrown in and are never explained. How the main characters discover that this attack is going to take place is equally random. It’s as if the writer, Adi Hasak, couldn’t think of a way to integrate the final random plot thread, so they made it a pure hunch that Reece gets.
Why did it remind me of G.I. Joe? That film had a long chase scene through the middle of Paris that was completely lacking any police, that is, until after the chase was over. Well, the third act of this film has a long chase scene set on a Paris freeway in which Travolta is hanging off the side of a car holding a giant bazooka trying to stop a car that he is chasing. There are no police in sight, nor do they even show up after the action is complete, which is the usual cliché to be followed in such cases.
At least it looked like John Travolta was having fun. His performance is completely over-the-top, which at least makes the film move forward at a decent pace. It’s a shame that his character, like all the others in this film, are never developed in the least, which is why we never come to care about any of them. Travolta even reminds us that he’s done much, much better work by cracking a “royale with cheese” joke.
For those looking for a nonsensical, feature-length action sequence, you may get a kick out of From Paris with Love. Those looking for a little substance in their films will have to look elsewhere for satisfaction. You could always go back and rewatch Pulp Fiction to remember when Travolta made good movies. 2/4 stars.
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