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Whatever Happened to Stories with Substance?

Movie Title: From Paris With Love (2010)
Spoilers: No


In From Paris with Love, John Travolta eats up his role as Charlie Wax, a loose canon U.S. operative looking to thwart an insurgent terrorist attack in Paris. Jonathan Rhys Meyers is James Reece, a low-ranking CIA agent who loves what he does as a personal assistant to the U.S. Ambassador to France, Ambassador Bennington (Richard Durden).

Reece has a beautiful, what-dreams-are-made-of French fiancĂ©, Caroline (Kasia Smutniak). To her goes the bulk of his passion. Second to his beloved is his job, which he does well. But things become trying when Reece finds himself in the middle of an assignment he is ill-prepared to handle—and with a new partner who is practically beyond handling.

Travolta's Charlie Wax, a bald-headed, bulky clothes-wearing, goatee-sporting, racially insensitive, trigger-happy troublemaker with a big mouth and sharp moves is the only attention-getting feature in this 92 minutes of a “let god sort 'em out” shoot 'em up with a paper-thin plot. The audience never quite knows what's going on. You have to put it together as you go along while you watch the body count keep rising with nearly every scene change. Neither the French, nor the Asians are safe.

This Charlie Wax is a messy dude. He's paired up with a socially graceful Reece, who, unlike his reckless partner, has no field combat training. Wax dodges and leaps, jumps and rolls, and does other Jack Bauer-ish things...assisted with hefty help from the computer-imaging department.

What does Reece do? He tags along with a vase of cocaine, like nothing more than an idiot second set of hands—that and he stands in disbelief of everything his nutto partner does. Watch Reece start “tripping” while cruising the city, listening to a blabbermouth that you nearly wish would shut up. Such does not make for the best of viewing. Wax is a little like James Belushi in Red Heat, always with a nearly funny remark that just barely keeps from landing smack-dab in the center of Annoying County.

The action is terribly segmented in short, abrupt scenes that become choppy and tiresome. One never gets used to the blue-ish hue and poor lighting that christens practically the whole flick.

There are no principled undertones, no meat-and-potatoes messages or meanings to be picked out, just a flood of violence and garrulousness that, despite the insistence of some, doesn't quite replace what used to be called stories with substance way back when.



Grade: C- (2 Stars)
Rated: R (for violence and language)
Director: Pierre Morel
Summary: In Paris, a young employee in the office of the US Ambassador hooks up with an American spy looking to stop a terrorist attack in the city.
Starring: John Travolta "Charlie Wax," Jonathan Rhys Meyers "James Reece," Kasia Smutniak "Caroline," Richard Durden "Ambassador Bennington," Yin Bing "M. Wong," Amber Rose Revah "Nichole," Eric Gordon "Foreign Minister"
Genre: Action / Crime / Thriller


  1. It drove me crazy that Reece's character just stood by and let Wax do all the fighting. Reece's inability to fight makes sense in that he hasn't had weapons training. However, it's still annoying to watch Wax take on a dozen bad guys while Reece cowers.


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