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From Paris With Love Fits Into Luc Besson’s Crazy World, For What It’s Worth

From Paris With Love
Directed by Pierre Morel
Written by Adi Hasak from a story by Luc Besson
Lionsgate, 2010

We all know what to expect from anything Luc Besson touches nowadays.  Formerly a balls-to-the-wall action director (La Femme Nikita, The Professional, and the whacked-out The Fifth Element), Besson has taken more to producing insane action films while his directorial duties have been focused on the Arthur and the Invisibles series.  Besson is best-known for producing The Transporter films of late, and many of the movies he doesn’t direct are made by people who have worked with him before.  Here is another outrageous action film with another collaborator, Pierre Morel (who did cinematography on Unleashed and The Transporter, among others).

James Reece (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) works as an assistant to a US ambassador (Richard Durden) to France, but looks to join a covert ops outfit at some point.  He’s in love with a pretty gal named Caroline (Kasia Smutniak), and it looks like he might get his chance soon.  He gets regular phone calls from an unrevealed guy-behind-the-guy who gives him orders, and one day, Reece is sent on a mission to partner up with the unhinged Charlie Wax (John Travolta, still in The Taking of Pelham 123 mode).

Wax immediately wants to get into some action, and the unprepared, unqualified, untrained Reece is about to watch a guy who absolutely does not give a crap start beating and blowing away bad guys in the effort to sniff out a terrorist group funded with drug money.  Wax just walks into danger and doesn’t need to really ask questions, he already knows what he needs to know, so he kills bad guys and does nothing but kill bad guys and puts everybody in danger.  Whatever, seems as though there’s a plot being hatched to disrupt some sort of summit taking place, your usual 24 business with a few more “motherfuckers” thrown in.

As usual, there are a lot of credibility-straining action scenes, some are cool and some are just ridiculous.  John Travolta is generally the reason to watch.  Whenever he’s on this manic, nihilistic action sugar high like in Broken Arrow, Face/Off, or Pelham 123, he makes anything you would normally struggle watching into something mildly watchable.  And that’s what this movie is, most who watch it will probably rent it.  And that’s OK, some movies are meant to be watched at home with beer and pizza.

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