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From Paris With Love

Year: 2010
Production Co: Europa Corp
Director: Pierre Morel
Writer: Adi Hasak/Luc Besson
Cast: John Travolta, Jonathan Rhys-Myers

In the same way one could advise never to see a Merchant Ivory film for the car chases and gunplay, the problem with anyone who complained about how ridiculous this film is was with them, not the film. I'm sure the word 'Besson' means 'frenetic, unsubtle action' in French, and the sooner critics realise this, the sooner Luc, his production company Europa and his stable of protégés can just get on with it.

For two thirds of the movie, the story's just an excuse to lurch from one action set piece to the next. A young ambassadorial assistant in Paris, Reece (Rhys-Myers - interesting to see how much of a coincidence that was) wants a life of intrigue and adventure, and after a shadowy handler's been calling to assign low-level espionage tasks, he finally gets his chance. Shepherd a spy through French customs and assist him, he's told, and you're in full time.

What Reece doesn't count on is the brash, loud, crazy Charlie (Travolta), who hasn't even entered the country before he makes waves. After fighting with customs the pair then go to a Chinese restaurant drug den where a gun battle that would rival most war zones ensues, revealing Charlie's decidedly no nonsense methods.

But he's actually there to stop a terrorist plot, and the film made a violent about face. While Reece and his beautiful French girlfriend are entertaining a friend of hers and Charlie for dinner at what seems like the conclusion of the mission, Charlie stands up and blows the girl away, revealing a can of worms about Reece' girl's background and her own part in the plot.

It was a better script than the basis for most generic action movies, but the real pleasure in the film as a whole is Travolta. Watch any role of his since Pulp Fiction, and you can see he has much better fun as a villain. And yes, the movie's trashy and without substance, but when Travolta's having fun in a role, you will too.

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