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Home Reviews Cinema reviews From Paris With Love
From Paris With Love Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Friday, 26 February 2010 16:05

Director: Pierre Morel
Cast: John Travolta, Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Certificate: 15

"Every man has his vice. Mine is a royale with cheese." That's John Travolta there, in character as psycho secret agent Charlie Wax, referencing his earlier work in Pulp Fiction. It's either an audacious and brilliant in-joke, or it's just lazy. And depending on your view of that line, you'll pretty much think the same of the whole film. It's from the director of Taken, if that gives you a clue what to expect. And you wouldn't be far wrong. Except that this is far more entertaining.

Don't be mistaken: this is still 100% trash. Trash which sees lots of Europeans getting shot to pieces. But Luc Besson's good cop-bad cop double-act idea actually outdoes its unoriginal concept. Most of that is down to the pairing of its two leads, the unorthodox maverick Charlie Wax (Travolta) and the chess-playing desk jockey James Reece (Rhys Meyers). In between ridiculous shoot-outs (which never get interrupted by the Parisian police) the odd couple conjure up some decent comic timing, with Travolta's OTT performance stealing the show by far.

It's a turn that shouldn't be funny. It's obvious, done-before and has no depth to it whatsoever. But somehow, Travolta pulls back his balding bad-ass from the brink of crapness and delivers a genuinely funny character. Not hilarious, but definitely amusing. The plot is glaringly simple and riddled with basic holes - how does James Reece work his cover job as US ambassador's aide without someone noticing his spooky antics? Are the Chinese drug dealers really linked to some over-arching Middle Eastern terrorist cell? And are we seriously meant to believe that Wax's ageing, porky secret agent is able to run across rooftops?

Naturally, the answers don't matter; brain cells are not what From Paris With Love was ever going to be about. It's about bazookas. Coke. Bald people. French people. Guns. Terrorists. Any excuse to blow something up or have John Travolta swear his hairless head off. And on that basic level it works. Thanks to its perky partnership, Pierre Morel delivers a lighter effort than the downright disturbing (and rather xenophobic) Taken. Mixing the laughs with some well-edited action - the car chase easily kicks Quantum of Solace's arse - Morel has managed to make an enjoyable bit of brainless cinema. He should probably quit while he's ahead.


From Paris With Love is perfect popcorn fodder - dumb, diverting and surprisingly not dreadful.


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