From Paris with Love (Review)

Travolta goes garish in broad, dumb buddy picture

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As the special assistant to the U.S. Ambassador in France, James Reece (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) also doubles as a low level secret agent, presumably for the CIA, handling menial tasks while hoping for an upgrade that will earn him more active duty. Of course, the old adage to be careful what you wish for catches up with Reece in a flash when he’s enlisted to support live-wire special operative Charlie Wax (John Travolta) on an undisclosed assignment.

Wax is the stereotypical punch-shoot-blow-up-the-joint-first kind of all-American rogue who thinks intel is for wimps and style is signified by the size of your gun. Which sets up parallels between Wax and Luc Besson, the creative lead behind From Paris with Love who might be considered France’s Michael Bay or Jerry Bruckheimer. He’s a maestro of mayhem, an action artiste with a host of titles (La Femme Nikita, The Professional, The Fifth Element, The Transporter series, Angel-A) bearing his creative stamp.

Part of what defines him as such, though — and what separates him from Bay and Bruckheimer — is that he has his own distinct brand of narrative and visual lunacy that is fueled by what can only be described as Besson logic, and it defies an attempt to match it up with anything remotely similar to the real world.

But with From Paris with Love, he is serving up his own version of Bay and Bruckheimer with a broad, dumb mismatched buddy picture. Bravo. He should let this be a one-and-done exercise and get back to Planet Besson where style, even in action films, matters. Grade: D

Opens Feb. 5. Check out theaters and show times, see more photos from the film and get theater details here.
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