Monday, February 22, 2010

FROM PARIS WITH LOVE: Mindless Shoot-'Em-Up

FROM PARIS WITH LOVE (action thriller)
Cast: John Travolta, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Kasia Smutniak, Richard Durden, Melissa Mars, Amber Rose Revah and Farid Elouardi
Director: Pierre Morel
Screenplay: Luc Besson and Adi Hasak
Time: 95 mins
Rating: * * 1/2 (out of 4)

PREAMBLE: Well, whaddaya know? French film-maker Luc Besson has gotten classier these days! Nope, the screenplay (based on his story) is still trashy and the action cartoonish. And his dialogue stinks even more this time around.

However, he has brought some 'class' to the cast - like, instead of a second-stringer like Transporter's Jason Stratham, he has John Travolta and Jonathan Rhys-Meyers to grace the marquee. And understandably, these two leads help to make this trite blow-'em-up flick more credible than it really is.

THE SKINNY: Rhys-Meyers plays James Reese, a rookie intelligence operative working in the office of the U.S. Ambassador in France. Reese takes on more than he bargained for when he partners Charlie Wax (Travolta), a wisecracking, fast-shooting, high-ranking US secret agent who’ has been sent to Paris to stop a terrorist attack.

Meanwhile, while driving Wax around from one seedy Parisian joint to another, Reese has to worry about his fiancee Caroline (Kasia Smutniak) who wants to invite Wax home for dinner.

THE REVIEW: Typical of Besson's productions, nothing in the plot makes sense. At the opening, we see Reese playing chess with his boss Ambassador Bennington (Richard Durden). Reese check his opponent - and Bennington identifies the move as Fisher's 1972 gambit. Yet Reese manages to checkmate him in the next move!

The action picks up with the arrival of Travolta's Wax - who goes around shooting and beating Paris up like it was a cowboy town. It is a good thing that Travolta's cartoonish character is balanced with a few aces up his sleeve that surprise the audience. Rhys-Meyers provides a suitable foil to Wax - helping to pump up his already over-the-top super-agent.

Of course, the movie is aimed at action fans who don't give a hoot about plot credibility as long as the action is charged and the chicks are hot. And here we have Smutniak (pic, right), a newcomer who looks a lot like Besson's ex-girlfriend Milla Jovovich.

THE LOWDOWN: Mindless but fun.


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