Around this time last year we were treated to a surprisingly entertaining action film set in France called Taken in which Liam Neeson played a former CIA operative whose 17 year old daughter was kidnapped by a sex slave ring. Taken stands as proof that a movie can have a crazy, unbelievable plot and still be an entertaining action film. From Paris With Love, on the other hand, proves that Taken was the exception for European action films and not the rule. Most action films made by Europeans are like The Transporter, a movie so messy and crazy that you just assume it was written by a schizophrenic. Let me describe From Paris With Love and you can decide if it falls in that category.
James Reece (Jonathan Rhys Myers) has a pretty decent life as the Executive Assistant to America's Ambassador to Paris. In addition to being indispensable to his boss, he also seems to be a rising covert CIA operative AND he's dating a smoking hot girl played by Polish model Kasia Smutniak. Awesome name, by the way. Kasia Smutniak. Hee hee hee. I shouldn't laugh. My name in Poland probably translates directly as "World's Biggest Dog Raper" or something like that but still...Kasia Smutniak. Moving on.
Reece is told by his CIA bosses to partner up with an American agent named Charlie Wax (John Travolta). I strongly suspect that the first draft of this script did not contain a character named Charlie Wax and that he was only added after they cut John Travolta a check. I think this because Charlie Wax pretty much seems to exist in a completely different movie. There's apparently some big trouble brewing in Paris so the CIA figured the best way to handle it was to release a rude, violent psychopath with a hair trigger who doesn't even speak French into the Parisian streets. Wax has a tendency to enter dangerous situations and shoot indiscriminately. Wax and Reece have two assets on their side: 1) Bad guys look as if they've been trained to not aim directly at whomever they are shooting and 2) Parisian police don't show up to investigate massive gun battles unless such an investigation is convenient for the plot. This means that maybe sending in Charlie Wax wasn't such a stupid idea on the CIA's part. Now Wax is free to kill Chinese cocaine dealers until his trigger finger gets tired BUT it turns out he's not really there to kill Chinese drug lords even though he spends the first 40 minutes killing a shitload of them. His actual mission is to track down Pakistani suicide bombers, a fact he withheld from Reece until the totally random moment he chose to reveal it. Why didn't he tell Reece that in the first place? Shut the hell up, that's why.
If you're wondering why the movie is called From Paris With Love, you won't find an answer from me. As far as I can tell, it's a generic, meaningless title that fits in perfectly with this generic, meaningless movie. The plot is stupid, the action is uninspired and obviously computer generated and, to top it off, the filmmakers thought it would be entertaining to shoot not one but two gorgeous women in the face. Also, they had the moviemaking smarts to have Travolta make a joke about his love for the Royale With Cheese, a line that instantly reminded us of a much better movie with John Travolta and managed to do something I thought was impossible. It lowered my opinion of the movie even further. That's one accomplishment, I guess.