Movie Review: From Paris with Love- An Overtly Absurd and Horridly Bland Action Film

If you ever have the privilege of wasting your time for three years in film school you might have had the fortunate experience of sitting through a screen writing course and learning a thing or two about how you personally can’t write a good script. Writing a good script, including a well developed plot, interesting characters, and captivating dialogue, can be a difficult task but more often than not people will develop a poorly written script that is just admired by the script writer’s friends with no appropriate criticism to improve it. In Pierre Morel’s new film From Paris with Love it appears that a script was written and never validly criticized for its obvious faults, exaggerations, poorly written dialogue, and overly cliché moments. From the very beginning we know the script is forceful and not adequately directed to remove the corniness and lack of well done character development by just focusing on our meager protagonist. But most people who go to the cinema aren’t interested in intriguing character development or heart wrenching connection to the stories main character. Instead they are looking for good violence and engaging action sequences and that’s exactly what you can expect from the director of Taken and District B13. Luckily the Hardboiled-esque action and over the top performance from John Travolta make this a slightly entertaining film that reeks of formulaic structure and unoriginality.

It’s difficult to actually nail down the plot of From Paris with Love because it jumps around too much to ever focus on an actual villain or perpetrator behind all of the events making the actions of our main characters seem useless in the end. Switching from Chinese drug gangsters to Pakistani terrorists, the film never chooses a direction making the entire experience chaotic. The basics are there, of course, following our young and intelligent government agent who aspires for more intense and meaningful work who is portrayed sloppily by Jonathan Rhys-Meyers. He is matched up with an egotistical, racist, loud mouthed, self-proclaimed bad ass Charlie Wax, played by an over the top and baldly transformed John Travolta, who at least brings some spark to the already bland film. Now just because Travolta brings some personality to the screen doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s welcome or even mildly entertaining. In fact, Travolta is so over the top that the film tends to get slightly more annoying from the moment you meet him. Not unlike the Transporter series, where Morel acted as cinematographer for two of them, From Paris with Love is too absurd of a plot to take seriously and too convoluted to truly understand what is actually going on making the audience feel too drained to even care about piecing it all together. But again, it seems as though the public doesn’t care much for intricate or original storytelling, just look at Avatar’s numbers and you know immediately that the public wants fascinating effects and action rather than deep and relative storytelling. To be fair to Avatar though From Paris with Love is a vomit inducing lackluster attempt at even putting a coherent story together.

Interspersed throughout the horrid dialogue and lame revealing character sequences there is some mildly entertaining action but like most modern films everything has pretty much already been done and better before. The first shootout in the Chinese restaurant is over the top granted but it just reeks of John Woo’s earlier films Hardboiled and The Killer. Unlike Woo, Pierre Morel here makes a spectacle out of little to no story using action for the sake of action. When you’re hopping from Chinese drug cartels to Pakistani pimps to suicide bombers there is something inherently wrong with your script since it can’t seem to focus on one or the other major plot point while failing to explain or link any of them together. From Paris with Love is purely a chaotic mess that alienates, exhausts, and numbs the senses for caring at all what is occurring on the screen. Any mindless moviegoer who appreciated the Transporter series or any modern generic action film that comes out nowadays such as Gamer or Death Race just might enjoy this piece of garbage but movie goers should demand more especially with the director of Taken, which wasn’t necessarily a great narrative exploration but was a well put together action movie that had focused motivation and direction.

While story and direction are essential for a good film (or at least decent film) convincing acting is also high on the least of making a film credible. When your cast consists of a pretty boy who does decent acting on the Tudors and a washed up action star who already had his career saved once you know this potential action film wouldn’t be anything spectacular. Jonathan Rhys-Meyers is quite bland and even embarrassing in many scenes especially one at the end where he gives a speech about love to a suicide bomber. This young idealist wants to be a part of Special Forces but objects to actually killing people even when they are shooting at him. Then you have the loud mouthed racist John Travolta who makes his character in Face Off seem as though he’s on Ritalin. At times the action is something to admire because of all the choreography that goes into it but overall everything from character to story to direction is just overwhelmingly unconvincing making the film an incredibly poor attempt at bringing back the remarkable action spectacles that John Woo exceptionally produced. Mix this all in with poor attempts at humor that are gut wrenchingly bad and you have all of the elements for a movie that you should avoid at all costs.

For a director who used to be a cinematographer you would think that the camera work and visuals would be exceptionally planned out and marvelous to look at but that just isn’t the case in From Paris with Love. Convoluted is too complimentary a word for this poorly written script because that would imply it had many quality elements that just couldn’t come together but this script has no elements that have any admirable qualities. The dialogue exchanges are embarrassing, the action is more copied than an homage, and the characters are bland and cliché. From Paris with Love should remind anyone attempting to write a film that they want to have quality, coherency, and originality to pass it along to someone who will give them legitimate criticism as to its faults. When you have the original story being written by veteran French filmmaker Luc Besson it seems that is enough for a film to be made, which is an unfortunate trend in Hollywood letting established filmmakers get away with mediocrity. Long story short From Paris with Love is a film you’ll be better off not seeing because its absurdity and unoriginality will follow you and that isn’t a pleasant experience.

Grade: D

3 Responses to “Movie Review: From Paris with Love- An Overtly Absurd and Horridly Bland Action Film”
  1. Alan S. says:

    “My guilty pleasure: A Royal with cheese” – Worst allusion to a character you played in another movie…. ever!

  2. Sam says:

    Not to mention the propaganda on this
    Film that makes the avErage
    Person think that all pakistanis
    Are terrorists anothEr zionist attempt
    To justify its wars and killing
    Of innocent Muslims

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