Directed by: Pierre Morel
Starring: Jonathan Rhys Meyers and John Travolta
Run time: 92 min.
For viewers who like a little explosive action with a high body count, “From Paris with Love” is the perfect film. That’s not to say that it’s brainless entertainment. The script has some clever writing and the director makes some nice artistic choices that make this movie a cut above the rest.
The plot itself is just another take on the buddy movie, but it’s not as much of a comedy as the previews might lead one to believe. Straight-laced James Reece (Jonathan Rhys Meyers, “The Tudors”) works at an American Embassy in Paris, but he wants to be promoted to a spy. He’s partnered with the slightly psychotic renegade Charlie Wax (John Travolta, “Old Dogs”). Mayhem ensues as it must with such a pairing, but the plot takes many surprising twists and turns.
The talented Luc Besson, who has given us such action flicks as “The Transporter” and “La Femme Nikita,” developed the story idea. Adi Hasak, who also wrote the 1997 thriller “Shadow Conspiracy,” wrote the script itself. Between these two talents, “From Paris with Love” is able to transform a mundane plot into a movie that keeps viewers interested from the very first scene.
There is only one truly cheesy moment in the film, but only those familiar with Travolta’s work would be aware of it. Granted, any movie that places Travolta in France would have to make the allusion to a certain famous “French” conversation in one of his previous movies.
That isn’t to say the French setting is overdone. The director, Pierre Morel, excels at making the Parisian backdrop more than a series of cliché shots of the Eiffel Tower. Like his directing work in “Taken,” he makes sure to include Paris’s less-traveled streets and seedier sites in an effort to demystify the famous city. He also includes a few artistic choices that elevate the film.
For example, one artistic shot where Reece is high was reminiscent of one of Hitchcock’s famous MacGuffins.
While this movie will never win an Oscar, “From Paris with Love” is an hour and a half of escapism at its finest.