VOD film review: From Paris with Love
Ivan Radford | On 04, Apr 2014
Director: Pierre Morel
Cast: John Travolta, Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Watch From Paris with Love online in the UK: Amazon Prime / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Apple TV (iTunes) / Google Play
“Every man has his vice. Mine is a royale with cheese.” That’s John Travolta there, in character as psycho secret agent Charlie Wax, referencing his earlier work in Pulp Fiction. It’s either an audacious and brilliant in-joke, or it’s just lazy. And depending on your view of that line, you’ll pretty much think the same of From Paris with Love. It’s from the director of Taken, if that gives you a clue what to expect. And your expectations wouldn’t be far wrong.
Don’t be mistaken: this is still 100% trash. Trash which sees lots of Europeans getting shot to pieces. But Luc Besson’s good cop-bad cop double-act actually outdoes its unoriginal concept. Most of that is down to the pairing of the two leads, unorthodox maverick Charlie Wax (Travolta) and chess-playing desk jockey James Reece (Rhys Meyers). In between ridiculous shootouts (which never get interrupted by the Parisian police) the odd couple conjure up some decent comic timing, with Travolta’s OTT performance stealing the show by far.
It’s a turn that shouldn’t be funny. It’s obvious, done-before and has no depth to it whatsoever. But somehow, Travolta pulls back his balding character from the brink and delivers a genuinely funny performance. The plot is glaringly simple and riddled with basic holes – how does James Reece work his cover job as US ambassador’s aide without someone noticing his spooky antics? Are the Chinese drug dealers really linked to some over-arching Middle Eastern terrorist cell? And are we seriously meant to believe that Wax’s ageing secret agent is able to run across rooftops?
Naturally, the answers don’t matter; brain cells are not what From Paris With Love was ever going to be about. It’s about bazookas. Bald people. French people. Any excuse to blow something up or have John Travolta swear. And on that basic level, From Paris with Love works. Thanks to its perky partnership, Pierre Morel delivers a lighter effort than the xenophobia of Taken. Mixing the laughs with some well-edited action – the car chase easily overtakes the opening of Quantum of Solace – Morel has managed to make an enjoyable bit of brainless cinema.
From Paris with Love is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.