Star cast: John Travolta, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Kasia Smutniak.
Plot: Jonathan Meyers, an aide to the US ambassador in Paris, does odd jobs for the CIA in the hope of becoming a Special-Ops agent. He is promised a promotion if he helps special agent John Travolta in a mission to eliminate a terrorist cell in Paris. Johnathan’s French girlfriend, Kasia, turns out to be the stumbling block.
What’s Good: John Travolta’s portrayal of the trigger-happy, wisecracking special agent.
What’s Bad: The clichéd plot; the loopholes in the script; the absence of emotional hooks in the story.
Verdict: From Paris With Love is a half-hearted attempt at making an action thriller. Thumbs down! From India, not much love!
Loo Break: Several, especially because you can predict what is going to happen next.
From Paris With Love is an action thriller based in the city of Paris where James Reece (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is an ambitious aide to the US ambassador in Paris. He has a French girlfriend, Caroline (Kasia Smutniak) and they both are leading a happy life together. But James yearns to join the CIA and get into the special operations team. So, even as he assists the US ambassador, he keeps doing odd jobs for the CIA. On the day that Caroline very sweetly proposes to him, James is made an offer that he finds irresistible: help special agent Charlie Wax (a bald John Travolta) in his secret operation and get promoted.
James discovers what it is to be an agent when he meets the trigger-happy, wisecracking and irreverent Wax, who goes on a killing spree as soon as he arrives in Paris. Not knowing what else to do, James follows Wax’s lead as they both deal with the underbelly of Paris, mainly comprising ethnic criminals, drug peddlers and terrorists. James discovers that their target is a terrorist cell which is planning an attack on an international conference to be held in the city. In the meanwhile, Caroline, who is worried about James’ whereabouts, calls him and Wax over for dinner. At the dinner, Caroline’s true identity is revealed. Is she a spy? Are James and Wax able to thwart the terrorist attack? The rest of the film answers these questions.
Luc Besson’s story is interesting but not exciting enough. Although James and Wax’s characters provide ample scope for conflict between the two, this angle has not been exploited. Also puzzling is the fact that James, who is madly in love with Caroline, has no regrets about losing her eventually, and bounces back to life immediately. Moreover, an attack on the American delegation, otherwise picturised stylistically, does not worry the audiences much. The storywriter’s biggest flaw is the absence of extremities in the story-telling, giving the film a me-too feel.
The screenplay by Adi Hasak does not rise above the average level. The audience is presented with a series of meaningless shots of an SUV moving down the street, etc. Even the action sequences are average.
Nevertheless, John Travolta excels and makes his character lovable. His quirks will stay with the audience. Jonathan Rhys Meyers disappoints as James. Had he complemented John Travolta, the film might have been a better watch. Kasia Smutniak is okay.
Pierre Morel’s direction is average. He flounders in several scenes, where the audience is given a clue about what will happen. His choice of a half-baked script itself spells doom for the film.
The music by David Buckley does not add any flavour to the movie. Cinematography (Michel Abramowicz) is okay. Editing by Frédéric Thoraval is patchy; in the film’s initial reels, you have no idea about what is going on. Technical aspects and the visual effects are good.
All in all, From Paris With Love is a disappointment, despite the good work by John Travolta. It will not get much love at the Indian box-office.