Published Feb 04, 2010From Paris with Love is a pretty good movie, as far as bad movies go, and that's about all there is to say about it.
Alas, the traditional model of film reviewing calls for a little more detail, so here's your summary: a terrorist plot is being hatched in Paris. Uptight U.S. Ambassador James Reece (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is partnered with tough-as-nails U.S. secret agent Charlie Wax (John Travolta), who has a tendency to overuse the word "mothafuckah" and looks like a big, goateed brick.
The film opens with the credit "Luc Besson Presents" - yes, we've found a brand even less credible than "Quentin Tarantino Presents" - and the ensuing movie contains all the transatlantic mayhem you'd expect from a film with such a disclaimer. Any questions?
The director is Pierre Morel, who just over a year ago unleashed the torrential storm of kick-assery that was Taken, a movie that pulled off the near-impossible feat of turning a mind-meltingly ludicrous plot into an asset. That film was simple, exciting, relentlessly paced and anchored by a strong, charismatic performance by Liam Neeson. Well, as John Travolta is to Liam Neeson, From Paris with Love is to Taken: the mid-film plot twist strains credibility, the Muslim-related xenophobia runs rampant and many action scenes are choppily edited.
That From Paris with Love fundamentally works is because of two things. First: Morel knows how to deliver an efficient, well-paced action film with a plot that races along so fast that the audience rarely has time to question the goofy story. Second and most important: the performance by, and relationship between, Travolta and Meyers.
They begin in opposition before gradually developing mutual respect and fondness, but not so much fondness that they seem likely to hang out much once this adventure is over. And unlike, say, the Rush Hour movies, their sugar-and-spice personality clash isn't exaggerated to the point of contrivance.
These are believable characters, more or less. And if a jive-talking, ass-kicking John Travolta can be mentioned anywhere within a thousand miles of the word "believable," the movie is clearly doing something right. (Maple)