You should never be afraid to seize an opportunity when it appears. The next big idea that changes your life may come out of somebody else being a dick. You may walk into a room without any intention of meeting somebody new, and the next thing you know you're taking wedding vows. It's the old adage of never looking a gift horse in the mouth. So with that in mind, here's a review of a movie I found by the side of the road.
From Paris with Love begins by introducing us to James Reece, an intelligent and methodical assistant to the American ambassador to France. He's got a cushy apartment, a beautiful girlfriend, the works. However, he's also a low-level field operative for the CIA, which is what he's really passionate about. He's just itching for his chance to prove himself and be a real
boy agent, but the assignment his handlers give him doesn't just involve a dangerous plot undertaken by some mysterious terrorists to... do something... but an equally dangerous partner: sarcastic, trigger-happy, go-for-broke professional crazy gunman Charlie Wax.
Charlie Wax, or at the very least John Travolta, tries pretty damn hard to save this movie. He provides a lot of the guilty-pleasure charm audiences might get from seeing a complete douchebag be the hero of the story. And pairing him up with Johnathan Rhys-Meyers' somewhat officious and eager-to-please Reece seems like the stuff of buddy-cop movie legends. But where Sherlock Holmes got it right in making the buddies equals, Reece is pretty much the straight man and punching bag for Wax's antics. It's completely lopsided, with Travolta swiping most of this movie away from pretty much everybody else in it. And it isn't like Travolta is so much better than everybody else: he's just good enough to be mostly watchable while everybody around him struggles to be mediocre.
Label on can: May contain bullets.
Label on Travolta: May contain ham.
Part of the reason a movie like Flash Gordon remains such a fan favorite is because there's a whole lot of ham in it. Same goes for a few of the Star Trek films, including the latest one. And John Travolta's definitely hamming things up here. In fact, rumors abound that Charlie Wax is hammy even by the standards of Travolta, and this is the gentleman responsible for the decidedly unsafe-for-vegetarians-and-Xenu-loyalists Battlefield Earth. But I was willing to overlook that, and the fact that he smuggled his gun Mrs. Jones into France in a rather improbable manner, because it seemed to be going in a relatively fun direction. It was after Wax asked for a 'royale with cheese' that I realized what was bothering me about From Paris With Love.
This is a shameless action cash-in flick. Like the beefy, roided-out, too-dumb-to-live juggernaut of this years' summer, The Expendables, From Paris With Love is pandering to the folks heading to the movie theater to get something relatively bland and familiar. Thankfully, it was only in theaters for 5 weeks, and in DVD sales it came in behind Shutter Island. But its existence is still kind of sad. It's cookie-cutter action scenes, lackluster dialog and flimsy premise combine to make it a cavalcade of mediocrity. I couldn't even bring myself to say I hated this movie, it just kind of made me nauseous.
"Ready to drop this bomb on the box office when you are, pretty boy.
The disc I found stopped working about halfway through the movie. "Good," I said to myself, "I can stop watching this because I know how it ends." Reece will discover his idyllic Parisian life was actually more dangerous than he thought it was, he'll have to do something like kill his boss or try to talk his girlfriend out of being evil, and he'll end up being Wax's partner at the end in such a way that'll promise a sequel. Looking at plot synopses on the Internets I can see I wasn't far off my prediction. I should've written it down and sealed it in an envelope. In any event, there really isn't much more to say about this lackluster, tasteless and pandering waste of time.
From Paris With Love was co-written by Luc Besson, the genius behind The Fifth Element and Leon (or The Professional if you prefer). Its director was Pierre Morel, who brought us the surprisingly good Taken. What the hell happened, guys? How did your writing and directing chops come together to make something less than fantastic? I don't know. In a way, I don't think I want to. It probably involves wine, baguettes and at least one very unfortunate mime.
I realize this week's review is a bit short and I apologize for that, but even if the DVD I rescued from the sidewalk hadn't crapped out, there wouldn't be much more to say. Even reviewing From Paris with Love, like watching the movie itself, is wasting your time, and you really should be doing something better with yourself. Like going to see Inception. Or listening to the Classholes Podcast. Or playing with a stray dog. Or putting Michael Bay through a wood chipper.
Josh Loomis can't always make it to the local megaplex, and thus must turn to alternative forms of cinematic entertainment. There might not be overpriced soda pop & over-buttered popcorn, and it's unclear if this week's film came in the mail or was delivered via the dark & mysterious tubes of the Internet. Only one thing is certain... IT CAME FROM NETFLIX.