Movie Review: FROM PARIS WITH LOVE

During most of the Luc Besson-produced From Paris with Love, I had no idea what was going on. Oddly enough, being a fan of plot-driven movies, I still found it to be a blast, and I’m not just talking about the explosions. It’s because of John Travolta having more fun than I’ve ever seen him have on screen, making it impossible for me to not enjoy the ride with him.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers is a junior CIA agent living in Paris with a cover job in the U.S. Embassy, doing little more than grunt work and eager to take on more dangerous assignments. He gets his wish when the agency teams him up with loose cannon agent Charlie Wax (Travolta) to take down drug dealers and terrorists. You don’t need to know more than that because it’s irrelevant. Do you remember what the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie was about? No, but you’re probably still chuckling about Johnny Depp’s performance as Captain Jack.

And so it is here with Travolta’s portrayal of the profane, badass, bald, goateed, tattooed, beefed up Wax with even beefier guns. When he first appears on screen, I thought, “Oh no, he just graduated from the Nicolas Cage School of Hambone Overacting.”

But the actor quickly won me over with the sheer joy he exudes in playing this character. Watching him take down bad guys and blow things up is like watching a child get exactly what he wants on Christmas morning. (I couldn’t help but also think that since this movie was shot while his son Jett was still alive, it may be a long time before we see Travolta this gleeful again.) And a movie with so many explosions, car chases and shootouts—done in spectacular “Aw, YEAH!”-inducing style—needs a big character like Wax to anchor it. Anything less would have been blown away with the scenery.

Nerd verdict: Fun adventure in Paris

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14 Comments

  • Reply
    le0pard13
    February 5, 2010 at 11:22 am

    I have this scheduled for this weekend. It looks like an absolute blast – sheer entertainment, check-your-brain-at-the-theater-door fun. I’m looking forward to it even more after your review, PCN. Thanks for this.

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      February 5, 2010 at 2:03 pm

      Please come back and share your thoughts after you see it!

      • Reply
        le0pard13
        February 5, 2010 at 7:48 pm

        So much fun! Travolta did indeed give a badass, enjoyable performance. And as Eirego said, a solid buddy picture done well and with some flair.

        • Reply
          Pop Culture Nerd
          February 5, 2010 at 8:14 pm

          Hooray! That was some gooood action, right? Did SWMBO like it, too?

          • Reply
            le0pard13
            February 5, 2010 at 8:35 pm

            Not her kind of movie… I went solo.

  • Reply
    EIREGO
    February 5, 2010 at 11:31 am

    I saw it!!! It actually is a lot of fun. Just what I needed to get myself out of my head. Hollywood needs to make these buddy movies from time to time and put the effort they put into this one. For instance: COP OUT looks pretty lame.

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      February 5, 2010 at 2:04 pm

      Cop Out looks like another flop for Bruce Willis. What’s happened to his career?

  • Reply
    norma
    February 5, 2010 at 11:38 am

    HI PCN. I have to tell you the truth. I think I´m a big fan of this movie director. I think Luc Besson is a genius. In my humble opinion he´s the mind after this characters, not the actors. He creates unique characters in every movie he makes. And every movie is different. And every time he surprises you. So, as I told you, I think I´m a big fan of Luc Besson. I will try to see everything he does. Is always entertained.

  • Reply
    norma
    February 5, 2010 at 11:45 am

    HI PCN. I will tell you the truth. I think I´m a big fan of this movie diretor. I think is Luc Besson the genius that creates a new movie surprising and entertained every time,with original characters. I would see every movie he films. I told you I think I´m a big fan of Luc Besson!

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      February 5, 2010 at 2:02 pm

      Hi norma,

      I’m a fan of Besson’s work, too! But he didn’t direct this movie, only co-wrote and produced it. The director is Pierre Morel, who directed Liam Neeson in Taken.

  • Reply
    FFBUFF8
    February 5, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    Wanted to see this since I first saw the preview.

  • Reply
    Shell Sherree
    February 5, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    Woohoo!! I love John Travolta and really prefer him in the good guy roles, so seeing him as an outrageous badass-good guy will be a joy for me. And what a name ~ Charlie Wax ~ was this based on a novel, as it sounds like a great character series! That said, I’ll consider him the icing on the cake of Paris scenery. Thanks for the great review, PCN!

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      February 5, 2010 at 7:23 pm

      Hi Shell,

      I usually don’t like him as a bad guy because he tends to be way too hammy, but when he’s over the top as a good guy, it somehow works! Or it does here, at least.

      As for Parisian scenery, the movie makes it look kinda grimy but hey, there are seedy sections in every beautiful city, right?

  • Reply
    Jen Forbus
    February 8, 2010 at 5:16 am

    My mom and I went to see UP IN THE AIR this weekend and saw a preview for this one. I was cracking up just at the preview. I definitely want to see it.

    In unrelated news, I also saw the preview for the new DVD set that is coming out of Clint Eastwood’s work: 35 years/35 films. I…WANT…IT!

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