David’s Solo Review of From Paris With Love

9 Feb

When I decided to go see From Paris With Love, I had very low expectations.  Having not heard anything good about it, I was not terribly impressed with the trailer, and I was more than unsure about this new reinvention of John Travolta.  But I tried very hard to keep an open mind.  In case you haven’t noticed, I am a firm believer that you should appreciate a movie for what it is.  An action thriller full of gun battles, car chases, and explosions is supposed to simply be entertaining.  I don’t go in to those types of movies expecting to have my mind stretched.  And, in my opinion, two of the men who can usually pull this type of film off better than anyone else are Luc Besson (the producer and co writer) and Pierre Morel (the director).  So I guess the question is, did they pull it off?

This is an awesome poster.

Almost.  If Taken and District 13 had not already proven Morel’s ability at directing outstanding action sequences, than this does.  This is the story of a low-level CIA agent who is given the task of driving a top agent around Paris, helping him out when and if he needs it.  Jonathan Rhys Meyers is our unlucky junior agent and John Travolta is our foul-mouthed, over-the-top killer with a heart of gold.  Obviously, the driving around ends up turning into gunfights and other such nonsense.  But, the gunfights are spectacular.  The car chases involve rocket launchers.  Watching each fight sequences is like watching a beautiful, incredibly violent, choreographed dance.  Every movement is executed perfectly.

So it’s good?  That’s what you’re asking yourself.  You’ve heard it was terrible, and here I am raving about how great the actions sequences were.  And they were, but even in an action movie, you need a little more than well executed violence.

I have a problem with both of the lead actors in the movie.  John Travolta was so completely outrageous that I could not believe in his character for even a few seconds.  Jonathan Rhys Meyers almost seemed to be attempting to balance the over-acting out, by only barely trying.  I felt like I was watching his first movie role ever, which is ridiculous because he’s been acting since he was 17, and had a pretty important role when he was 18 in Michael Collins.  He should know to put a little more into his performance, and Travolta should definitely know by now how much of himself to invest.

But I think it would be obvious to anyone watching this film that John Travolta and Jonathan Rhys Meyers are not the real stars of the film.  Pierre Morel’s eye for action is quite obviously the big selling point here.  And I would be willing to turn a blind eye to the over-acting and the under-acting and just enjoy the ride, except for one little thing.

The way this movie ends is terrible.  Imagine something that’s truly emotional and heartbreaking.  Let’s say City of Angels.  Now imagine Nic Cage getting up the next morning and going about his business as if nothing happened.  He even goes to the park for some chess and a sandwich.  There is nothing believable about it.  And I’m not talking about a totally over-the-top action scene here.  I would have loved that.  My problem lies with the story.  It sucks.  I was all ready to walk out of the theater and tell everyone that they were just being elitist and they needed to step down off their high horse and just admit that they like action movies and John Travolta is kind of hilarious when he’s this ridiculous.  But then the movie ended, and I was so appalled I almost forgot how much I enjoyed the madness of the mannequin warehouse scene.  I don’t want to give away the story, so I will just say this:  The emotional climax of a movie should never be forgotten or ignored in the following scene.  You’ve spent the entire movie building up to it.  Don’t act like it didn’t happen during the final moments of the film.  No one should ever do that.  Not even people with names like “Reese” and “Charlie Wax”.

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