Action Movie Friday: From Paris with Love

It is time for Action Movie Friday, where I treat an action movie like an action movie and not like a drama and stuff. All movie reviews are subjective and while I may like something, you might think it’s shit, and vice versa!

Title: From Paris With Love
MPAA Rating: R
Release: 2010
Genre: Comedy, Action
Starring: John Travolta, Jonathon Rhys-Meyers, Kasia Smutniak, Richard Durden
Director: Pierre Morel
Writer: Adi Hassek, Luc Besson
Distributor: Lionsgate
Budget: $52 Million
Box Office: $53 Million

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 37%

Gingersnaps Rating: Five Cookies!

So, I was feeling in the mood for something funny, as I take a break from the Fast Franchise. (The next movie cheeses me off a little bit. Yay for semi-obscure slang.) In hindsight, as I was sitting there actually staring at my movies, I realized that there were probably better choices for funny action movies. But hey, this is the one I thought of first.

Summary:

Rookie low level CIA operative, James Reese (Rhys Meyers), has a day job as the French Ambassador’s personal aide when he’s not changing out license plates in the embassy garage. He longs to do for the agency and is finally given his chance when his controller sends him to pick up his new partner, Charlie Wax (Travolta), at the airport. Reese finds himself dragged in over his head with Wax’s unorthodox and brutal methods. Reese unexpectedly encounters his fiance on the way to a stake out and with no time to explain has to follow the chain of evidence with Wax. The chain of evidence that leads to Reese himself. He has to couple his methodical thinking with Wax’s hit and run mentality before somebody explodes half of Paris, whether it’s the bad guys they’re chasing or Wax himself.

Review:

Financially, this movie didn’t do well. It only brought one million more over it’s production budget in combined domestic and foreign ticket sales. Which is a shame, since it is grossly underrated. However, the first trailer was an absolute mess and the second trailer came too late to make up for it.

This movie is a classic tale of giving somebody what they want and them finding out it’s not at all what they thought it would be. Reese, a Star Trek loving, chess playing, nerd who has to think things through finds himself saddled with the energy drink guzzling, married to his gun, over the top Charlie Wax. Wax leads Reese about by the nose for a little and by the time Wax is ready to trust Reese with the real mission, Reese’s nerves are shot. In fact, they are so shot that Wax insists that Reese use some of the blow that they’d stolen earlier. Reese is confronted with the violence and betrayal of the life he claims he wants up close and personal. He’s pushed to the very edge and has to take a hard look at himself and his life and what he truly knows. Okay, honestly, that last bit was a little bombastic. The movie isn’t that explicit but Meyers plays the shell shocked first timer to mayhem quite well and conveys a lot more with a look than a bunch of dialog could ever do.

The plot is still treated with irreverence and humor, mainly supplied by Wax’ dialog and Reese’s incompetence.  And it gets a little twisty, in such, as writer I didn’t see it and if I say much more I’ll give it away. And I don’t want to do that.

There were by my count, two totally unnecessary explosions in this movie. Well done.

This movie is very self contained. There really is only one major female character in it, Caroline (Smutniak.) She starts out as the love interest and in the end, isn’t. Whether her new role at the end of the movie is much better than love interest, I’m not sure. However, in an action movie, this was refreshing to see a female doing something other than someone to be kissed or won. I’m willing to give it a gingersnap just for that.

There weren’t a lot of fights in this movie. It wasn’t expressly that type of action movie with two big names on the screen hashing it out. All in all, Travolta takes on a bunch of mooks and Meyers eventually is driven to throw a punch or two. The fights with Travolta are entertaining. Meyers throwing punches gets entertaining only because of Travolta commentary during the fights. Since, I’m reviewing on what is there and not what could be, I’ll give this a gingersnap.

It is pretty easy to stick to consistent world building when the characters don’t stick around in one place to actually do any world building. But, cell phones run out of charge, guns run out of ammo and shock vests are consistently treated with care. In fact, the only thing that threw me in this movie was the Audi having trouble keeping up with the Volvo. Since the Audi did eventually pass the Volvo, I’ll give this one a hand wave.

Funny dialogue, good explosions, entertaining fights and an interesting plot with a twist I didn’t see coming, has me giving this movie five gingersnaps. Travolta is over the top and hysterical and Meyers gives a nuanced performance as his put upon driver/partner. I feel this is an underrated gem that needs more love and cookies.

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