Starring John Travolta, Jonathan Rhys-Myers and Melissa Mars
Written by Luc Besson and Adi Hasak
Directed by Pierre Morel
Rated R - Violence, language
Running Time: 92 minutes
I flat out loved Pierre Morel's "Taken" starring Liam Neeson, which was essentially a hundred minutes of total badassery put on film. "District B-13" was hit or miss, but showed Morel's incredible eye for action and stunts. "From Paris With Love" is more in the vein of "District B-13," where the story of the film suffers while the action sequences manage to impress.
James Reese (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) is the aide to the US Ambassador to France. At the same time, he's also a junior operative for the CIA, pulling of small jobs like planting bugs in offices, while he yearns to move up the ranks in the organization. His opportunity comes when he's assigned to provide support for an operative named Charlie Wax (John Travolta). Wax is on the trail of cocaine suppliers in Paris, cocaine suppliers lead him to terrorists, terrorists lead him to bla bla bla...
Ultimately, Wax reveals that he's trying to stop some kind of large terror plot which they eventually learn involves suicide bombers at a major international diplomatic conference in Paris. Reese must man up and learn to be a man of action like Wax in order to save hundreds of lives that hang in the balance.
Honestly, there's not much more to "From Paris With Love" than that. There's a subplot involving Reese's fiance. As soon as she appears on screen, you know exactly how it'll all end up. You see, everything about "From Paris With Love" is totally predictable except for the action sequences. That's where the film comes alive, when Wax is using his various combat skills to kill waiters, drug dealers, terrorists and anyone else who gets in the way. The gunfights are impressive, but somewhat short (indeed, the entire movie is a mere 90 minutes, including the opening and closing credits). A car chase at the climax is pretty cool, too, but mostly its the preceding gunfights that are anything special.
Travolta is clearly having fun as Charlie Wax, throwing out all kinds of offensive one-liners and slaughtering bad guys. Unfortunately, it seems like he's the only one in the entire film that is having any fun. Rhys-Meyers seems like he doesn't really know what to do with himself, even at the end when he mans up to stop the suicide bomber at the conference. All the other characters in the movie are thinly sketched at best, and the villains are just anonymous cannon fodder.
Still, there are worse ways to spend 90 minutes. Travolta's presence is infectious, and the action sequences make the whole thing breeze by.