Spy movies. While this genre was once major in Hollywood with films such as the ‘007’ series, it is dying out. We see less and less spy movies every year, and personally, I find that their quality is also diminishing. Knowing this, I did not expect to be impressed with the film ‘From Paris with Love’. The only reason I was actually compelled to watch it was to see why John Travolta randomly shoots some chick in the head (A famous scene that has been made into a meme). When I finally sat down to watch it after it, I decided that perhaps it was not a waste of time after all.
Title: From Paris with Love
Film length: 92 minutes
Staring: Jonathon Rhys Meyers, John Travolta
Average online rating: 6.0-6.5
From Paris with Love tells to story of a young ambassador’s aid named James Reece (Jonathon Rhys Meyers), who seeks to be promoted to a higher rank within the United States Embassy in Paris. While most associate embassies with long lines and passport photos, there is a grittier nature behind them in the film, as they host and orchestrate foreign espionage and combat missions carried out by trained Special Operatives. Deciding to toss the young-but-brilliant agent a bone, the embassy assigns Reece to a mission, accompanying special agent Charlie Wax (John Travolta) on a secret assignment.
The witty banter begins as soon as Wax enters the film, as we see him caught in a conflict with French Customs official. This is not a physical conflict however, instead, Wax has been detained for bringing illegal materials through customs. What did he bring? Guns? Drugs? Spy Toys? Oh no, he brought something far more menacing than that; Charlie Wax is detained for bringing canned energy drinks to France. After Reece saves the day by running interference, and granting Wax diplomatic privileges with a pretty red sticker, the real action begins.
Wax and Reece travel through Paris, wreaking havoc where ever they go, including, but not limited to, a Chinese Restaurant to shut down a drug ring, ghetto to shut down a terrorist organization, a brothel to…well, you figure it out, and all of this leads to a climax in a diplomatic Summit. Through out the film, more and more is revealed about why Wax is in Paris, and Reece soon realizes that he may be in over his head. With the promise of being granted field-agent status, Reece attempts to pick up the pieces behind his destructive partner, hoping to some how emerge from this all unscathed. Good luck with that buddy!
As I said before, this film surprised me. While it is far from being a five star academy award winner, it has value in its own sense. One of the reasons spy movies are dying out is because they become predictable. We can always expect some level of betrayal from the agency, and an unhappy ending to a certain degree, where the bad guys are dead but the hero does not feel any better.
While ‘From Paris with Love’ follows some of these cliches, there are other moments where we see genuine content and are pleasantly surprised. The combination of Travolta’s gun slinging die hard attitude with Myers’ reservations and inexperience is an example of a cliche that plays out well enough to ignore, and mistake for originality.
What really makes this film entertaining is the seamless lapsing between hardcore gritty action, and headache inducing hilarity (and I am not over estimating how funny it is. I am pretty sure I almost sh*t myself a couple of times). Few films have ever pulled this off without losing the serious nature behind it, yet ‘From Paris with Love’ managed to do this.
With all of these good things being said, I still have to acknowledge some faults. As I mentioned earlier, we still see cliches slip into the movie, and while some are refreshing, others are aggravating and dissatisfying. Along with this, there are several scenes in the movie that can only be described as corny. Save corny for Teenage love stories, but it has no place in a spy movie.
No film is perfect, but ‘From Paris with Love’ is an interesting movie that can help you pass time on a dull day, and will not leave you feeling as though you have wasted too many brain cells by watching garbage. Plus, it is amusing to see John Travolta bald. You can find the movie in any DVD shop, though I would suggest rental rather than buying it, unless you are a die hard fan of Pulp Fiction and/or the Tudors.
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Oh, and here is that meme I was talking about (be careful; it is technically a spoiler)