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FROM PARIS WITH LOVE (2010)


Director: Pierre Morel

Writers: Adi Hasak (screenplay) and Luc Besso (story)

Cast: John Travolta, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Kasia Smutniak...

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA): R (for strong bloody violence throughout, pervasive language, drug content, and brief sexuality)

Runtime: 92 minutes

Genres: Action/Crime/Thriller

Reviewed by Cherie Jung

Charlie Wax (John Travolta) arrives in Paris to stop a terrorist attack. James Reece (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), a young employee, and wanna-be spy, in the U.S. Ambassador's office is assigned to partner with Wax. Talk about an odd couple. The closest Reece has been to spying is planting a bug (listening device, not the creepy crawly kind) in an office and changing license plates on cars used by the real spies.

Reece doesn't embrace Charlie's "shoot 'em dead, then ask questions" approach to intelligence gathering. Wax is like a loose cannon in Paris, with plenty of ammunition and lots of street smarts. Reece is a "by the book or spy manual" kind of guy. One of my favorite scenes is where Reece wants to negotiate or talk with the bad guys who are quickly beating him to a pulp and Charlie responds with the quip, "Next time I tell you to shoot someone, shoot them!"

The big twist, as bad guys go, can be seen a mile off. The romance between Reece and his impatient girl friend (Kasia Smutniak) slows the plot a bit but is necessary to further the storyline.On the night Reece gets engaged he must leave the special celebration dinner to go pick up Charlie at the airport where he's being detained by French authorities and causing trouble over a can of energy drink. Charlie comes first, much to the aggravation of the girl friend. But Charlie is Reece's big chance to show the CIA he has what it takes to be a spy. But does he?

I'm not a John Travolta fan, strictly speaking, but FROM PARIS WIT LOVE was a lot of fun to watch. Travolta plays Charlie Wax way over the top and it works. I don't know if the director intended the movie to be a spoof of spy genre movies but if you view it that way, you'll have a lot more fun. Think of Jack Burton (Kurt Russell) in "Big Trouble in Little China" or the recent Bruce Willis movie "RED" about a retired CIA black ops team with a contract out on them.

Previously, I've only liked Travolta in "Broken Arrow" and "The General's Daughter" but I thoroughly enjoyed his Charlie Wax character. I could see a popular franchise here: "From London with Love," "From Beijing with Love"...

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