herr milflover s’éclate à Paris avec John Travolta – a review of From Paris With Love


Aah, Paris! The City Of Lights!

If the French thought they had it bad with terrorists in last year’s G.I.Joe, they better hold on because here comes Luc Besson with another one of his mindless action movies, and this time he’s bringing John Travolta with him!

Jonathan Rhys Meyers stars as James Reese, the personal aide to the US ambassador in France. He’s an efficient, by the book man, happily engaged to the beautiful Caroline (the gorgeous Kasia Smutniak). He’s also a CIA operative, biding his time doing menial jobs like changing car plates for actual agents, waiting for the chance of being promoted to full-fledged field agent status. The opportunity finally comes when he is assigned the task of helping Special Agent Charlie Wax, played by Travolta. A seeming dream opportunity turns into a nightmare of a baptism of fire for Reese, as he follows Wax around on a mission that starts as a drug bust and quickly  (d)evolves into trying to stop a nefarious terrorist plot.

This movie is pure Besson, perfectly in line with what he’s been producing for the last decade or so, which right there tells you if you’re likely to enjoy this one or not. Let’s face it, nobody watches Besson movies for intellectual, thought-provoking drama. The plot is thin and the big story twist is predictable, the action is violent and over the top, the one liners are plentiful and it never take itself too seriously. The movie starts a bit slow, but once Wax enters the fray, it’s near non-stop mayhem. Everywhere Wax drags Reese along, it seems there is some kind of gunfight, beatdown, crash or explosion that end up happening, giving us some cool scenes like Reese going up a spiralling staircase, ducking the many falling dead Asian henchmen Wax is disposing of one floor above him.

Director Pierre Morel, showing more of the promise he displayed helming Taken, helps hold it all together despite how preposterous it gets, keeping the action clear and easy to follow with minimal effects, giving hope that the overuse of shaky ‘BourneCam’ is finally dying down.

Much of the credit also goes to the cast, and by cast I mean Meyers and Travolta; everybody else – besides Smutniak- are little more than cannon fodder or story props. Meyers keeps things fairly grounded, portraying Reese as clearly in over his head amidst the hails of bullets he has to dodge alongside Wax and looking fine carrying a vase of blow, although I found him to be too emotionally restrained in the 3rd act. Surprisingly, it is Travolta who shines in a role he is clearly having fun with. Usually I have a hard time with his smarmy asshole acting/real life persona, yet somehow he is just perfect here, hamming it up shamelessly as the highly skilled, hot-headed pompous asshole Wax. Maybe it’s the bald head and goatee making him less ‘Travolta-looking’ than we’re used to, but it doesn’t come off as implausible to see him take out a gang of street thugs with his bare hands. He was a bit overdressed with the big coat and scarf, I’m guessing it was just to hide the fact that he’s getting fat in his old age, but it didn’t distract me from enjoying his performance.

From Paris With Love is definitely dumb and adds nothing new to the ‘mismatched duo movie’ scenario, but it is all quite ridiculously entertaining and a fun way to spend 95 minutes at the cinema,  which is all anybody can ask for.  I give it a solid 3 out of 4. 


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About Judge Droid

In between refining my procrastination skills I talk a lot of shit about movies and such.

17 responses to “herr milflover s’éclate à Paris avec John Travolta – a review of From Paris With Love”

  1. Droid says :

    Good review, Milf. I’m looking forward to this. Looks like a solid slice of dumbhouse.

    • Bartleby says :

      Hey Milf, good revew. Man, I wish I had seen the same movie as you; I kept wanting it to dumbhouse but outside of a few scenes–including the rain of asians–it just felt very disjointed. I really like Besson’s directed and produced stuff most of the time (his only directed films I don’t care for are those Minomoy things.

      I also like Morel, and feel Banilieue 13 is almost an action classic, and Taken was a fun ‘Friday night action flick’. I just thought there was a terrible disconnect between the movie Travolta thought he was in, the kind of movie Morel and gang wanted, and what they delivered.

      This was my review:

      Then again, I’m the joyless bastard who can’t appreciate the obvious brilliance of Blown Away (the Jeff Bridges version, not the homemade youtube crap that Koutch tried to foist on us yesterday).

  2. Jarv says :

    I’ve been looking forward to this as well.

    Good review.

  3. xiphos0311 says :

    I’m torn about this movie, on one hand, the TV ad I saw yesterday makes it seem like they destroy Paris which makes me glad in my happy place. On the other hand you have Travolta which dims my joy de vie.

    This is a good review Herr Milflover.

  4. koutchboom says :

    Nice to hear someone enjoyed this movie. I was surprised with all the negative feedback especially since everyone loved Taken and having gone back and re watched B-13, its a lot better then I first thought. I’m torn on seeing this or Mel this weekend. And short on cash.

  5. koutchboom says :

    Anyone ever seen any of Luc’s Taxi trilogy? I’m going to rent the French version of Top Gun sometime soon, that guy directed part two as well.

    • herrmilflover says :

      It’s actually a Quadrilogy.
      I’ve only seen the first two, they were fun. I’ve heard they gets worse after that.

      What would the french Top Gun be? No idea what you’re talking about.

      And myself I didnt like Edge Of Darkness, it wasnt bad but I just didnt get into it. Not nearly enough Mel kicking ass.

  6. MORBIUS says :

    Was going to go to the movies today, but it’s raining all day, maybe tomorrow. sounds like this would be a nice distraction. Thanks for the review herr milf.

    I am a bit confused though, I thought the Eiffel Tower, Arch de Triomphe and The Louvre were ass destroyed in TEAM AMERICA: World Police! Was it all rebuilt by the time they filmed G.I.Joe?

    • herrmilflover says :

      I dont believe they exist in the same universe, but I can understand your confusion, what with Channing Tatum’s acting being worse than the Team America puppets.

      • MORBIUS says :

        Didn’t you get the memo, Tatum’s a first class emoter now. He’s the headliner in a new flick called…

        Dear John, or John Deere….

      • xiphos0311 says :

        Even if Channing Tatum has all the emoting ability of a rock his movie manged to knock the space smurfs out of first place according Deadline Hollywood.

        It just goes to show never ever underestimate the movie going choice of the XX brigade. Sure you can question their taste but not their ability to buy tickets to crap en mass, It’s staggering really.

        Although I have to wonder if Dear John is any crappier then the space smurf ferngully war?

      • Jarv says :

        Space Smurf ferngully war?


        Mrs. Jarv has a 10 minute rant about the latent racism of Avatar- she’s got a whole new theme since I told her that “I see you” is a corruption of a zulu greeting.

      • xiphos0311 says :

        What about the tacit racism?

  7. Chipps says :

    saw a trailer for this toninght, and by god, it looks shithouse. as for travolta ‘changing his look’ well, it just makes me throw up in my mouth a little, reminding me of phelum 123. cause that’s what he looks like in it. you guys seem to think this looks good. i’ll prob go see it, but the trailer i saw, looks shit.l on a side note, after evalutating the nominees i’d be voting for travolta as worst actor of the decade. he has had some wins, and some truly great films in the decade before, but the man who bookends the decade with battlefield earth at the start, and old dogs at the end, gets my vote

    • Bartleby says :

      Chipps, I think we might see a little more eye to eye on this one. I thought it was a pretty poor movie actually, although it does have some decent action scenes. My problem is that these days, unless you are really showing us something new or just off-the-wall, action scenes can become boring. Thats how I felt here.

      Last night, mourning the GINORMOUS snowfall we got here and the temporary gimping of my internets, I sat down and watched Split Second, a 1992 sci-fi actioner with Rutger Hauer as a badass with his ‘straight-laced’ sidekick, hunting a serial killer (who might be a demonic mutant) through the rainy streets of future London.

      That movie is similarly un-original, dopey and striving for serious/goofy tone, like Paris. The difference is that Split Second is awesome at what it wants to be. It’s got character chemistry, and it has a sense of humor that is consistent, and it can mine one scene for thrills, or pathos (goofy as it may be) and then another for pure insanity.

      So, it isn’t that I’m against schlocky action. I just want GOOD schlocky action.

  8. xiphos0311 says :

    As much as I pray for the demise of shaky cam It’s not going to happen any time soon unfortunately. It covers up way to many sins to lose it; including having fight instructors and choreographers that suck, actors that aren’t convincing as fighters coughcough*Matt Damon*coughcough and directors that don’t know how to shot a fight scene without gimmicks.

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