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Blu-ray Reviews

HTF Blu-Ray Review: "From Paris With Love" (BD + Digital Copy)



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#1 of 10 Ed Faver

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Posted June 12 2010 - 09:42 AM


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FROM PARIS WITH LOVE


Release Date: June 8, 2010
Studio: Lionsgate
Packaging/Materials: Two-disc Blu-ray case with slipcover
Year: 2010
Rating: R for strong bloody violence, drug content, pervasive language, and brief sexuality

Video: 1080p Widescreen High Definition, 2.35:1

Audio: English 7.1 DTS-HD MA, French 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English & Spanish, English SDH
Running Time: 93 minutes
MSRP: $39.99



The Feature


James Reece and Charlie Wax are Hollywood's latest action movie odd couple. Reece, played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers, is a top aide to the U.S. ambassador to France. Embassy parties, a seat at the grown-ups table during high level negotiations, a gorgeous girlfriend in the fashion industry. What young man could want more? Reece. He appears to want to be the next James Bond. He's got a part-time job working for the CIA running low-level errands that he hopes will lead to bigger and better things. John Travolta is Charlie Wax, living the life that Reece thinks he wants. Great with a gun, his fists, and a wisecrack, Wax is brought into France to deal with a potential terrorist threat. Reece's CIA handlers want him to get Wax into the country, provide him with the tools he needs for the job, and--eventually--get him out of the country.


Very quickly, Wax demonstrates to an overeager Reece why spies don't conduct business in tuxedos with martinis (shaken not stirred in hand). Bullets fly, bodies drop, and our heroes use some confiscated cocaine as a morning eye opener when coffee isn't readily available.  All the while, Reece and Wax are chasing terrorists about...something. That something eventually becomes clear, but, for a long while, I sat there telling myself that all of this is exciting and well-staged, but why are these two guys shooting up the place all the time?


This last question is likely the reason that From Paris With Love sank at the international box office. Directed by Pierre Morel and produced by Luc Besson, the same team that gave us the financially successful Taken, this followup film has action sequences that are on a par with its predecessor and, like Taken with Liam Neeson,  a charismatic star in Travolta. However, it does not have a compelling story. Taken had a goal that the audience easily bought into: rescue Maggie Grace!!!  Here, we move from set piece to set piece, each one impressive...and hollow. When we arrive that the story's twist (easily predicted early in the film), the hoped for emotional resonance falls flat. Who cares about the middle-aged lady in the limo? Who the hell is she? I still am not sure!


Rhys Meyer and Travolta make a likable pair. I'll bet there were times while the dailies were being screened when the money men were thinking about the next Reece/Wax adventure. Dreams die hard, boys, dreams die hard.

Rating: 3/5


Video


The film is accurately framed at 2.35:1 and presented in 1080p with the VC-1 codec. The image is crisp and detailed in all levels of lighting. Sharpness is impressive with the film's natural color palette presented pleasingly. A 'making of' featurette reveals that several scenes that occur in the interior of an automobile were shot on a soundstage in front of a green screen. I was quite surprised by this as the foreground/background match is beautiful.

Rating: 4.5/5


Audio


"Pow!" "Bang!" "Zowie!" From Paris With Love kept a lot of Foley artists busy for a long time, I'll bet. The film is awash with layers of audio effects, from the ceaseless chatter of automatic weapons to the 'barely there' tip toes of Travolta sneaking up on a bad guy. It's all there, with a music track laid in cooperatively rather than competitively. On my 7.1 system, the surround effects were nicely separated throughout. Bass sounds are noticeable, but not overwhelming. Overall, a nice job.


Rating: 5/5

Extras

This package contains a Blu Ray disc and a digital copy, but does not include a standard DVD copy of the film. Director Pierre Morel provides commentary via the Bonus View pic-in-pic system.


Other extras are:

The Making of From Paris With Love


Any extra beginning with "Making of..." raises the electronic press kt flag for me. You know, something HBO throws on in between features for about 8 minutes. This "Making of..." goes far deeper into the film, covering character, story, effects with contributions from the stars, the directors, and the production team. This appears to be a production where everybody had a great time making the film. I am sure they were looking at the grosses of Taken and were mistakenly counting their own back end money.


Spies, Spooks, and Special Ops: Life Under Cover


A very interesting, albeit too brief, look at the lives of real CIA operatives from retired spies. Based on the apparent age of the talking heads of this feature, their experiences took place during the Cold War. I was surprised to find that some things I took for pure fiction in past films (hidden poison pills, for example) were very real. The CIA handed out eyeglasses and sunglasses with cyanide pills embedded in the plastic. No way out? Break your specs and find the hidden prize inside.



Secrets of Spy Craft: Inside the International Spy Museum


The name says it all. Just don't blink or go to the bathroom. You'll miss the whole thing.

Charlie Wax's Gun Locker


A weapon by weapon visual database of all of the toys used by Travolta's character in the film.


BD-Live


At the time of review, only a standard set of Lionsgate trailers were being offered for viewing. I tried downloading some ring tones, but the process timed out before I got anything.

Digital Copy


On a disc of its own, with a code key on a printed card in the package. Compatible with Mac and Windows. Offer expires June 8, 2011.


Rating: 4/5

In Summary

Sorry to be a broken record, but this appears to be a case of 'hope springs eternal.' A similar formula worked so well with Taken.  Let's spin it a bit, lighten up the tone, and everybody ends p with a beach house in Maui. From Paris With Love has a lot of exciting action sequences and a couple of charismatic characters. Only thing missing from the recipe was a plot. Like a cake with no flour...or eggs...or...well, you get the picture.


Overall rating (not an average): 3/

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#2 of 10 Edwin-S

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Posted June 12 2010 - 09:59 AM

Good review and spot on regarding the story. The only reasons to watch this are the action sequences and Travolta's crazed performance as Charlie Wax. The ending seems a liitle sick too, when you think of how Reece "arrives".


"You bring a horse for me?" "Looks like......looks like we're shy of one horse." "No.......You brought two too many."

#3 of 10 Michael Reuben

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Posted June 12 2010 - 10:01 AM

I think I enjoyed the film a little more than you did, Ed, but I can't disagree with your analysis. A fun read! /img/vbsmilies/htf/thumbsup.gif


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#4 of 10 Southpaw

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Posted June 12 2010 - 04:16 PM

I was very disappointed in the audio presentation after Morel's sound team did such a bang up job on "Taken". I don't know if he used a different sound team or what but everything sounded like a compressed DVD. Take for instance the sequence in the chinese restaurant. No authority to the gunfire. Explosions fell flat compared to some of the recent reference titles.



#5 of 10 David Coleman

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Posted June 13 2010 - 03:57 PM



Originally Posted by Southpaw 

I was very disappointed in the audio presentation after Morel's sound team did such a bang up job on "Taken". I don't know if he used a different sound team or what but everything sounded like a compressed DVD. Take for instance the sequence in the chinese restaurant. No authority to the gunfire. Explosions fell flat compared to some of the recent reference titles.


Exactly my feelings!! I'm stunned by the 5/5 rating for this audio? I found the audio to be very uneven and the dialogue at times incomprehensible. Sounds were mostly loud or very quite, without much ambience. The gunfights were really bad. Very little detail, just a lot of loud noises. Even the explosions lacked umph!


You are right, TAKEN is a much better track.


#6 of 10 Adam Gregorich

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Posted June 13 2010 - 05:42 PM

I really enjoyed Taken, so I was hoping that this would get a good review.  If Michael enjoyed it then I will ultimately have to watch.  He is 2 for 2 with me lately (Law Abiding Citizen and Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog).  The fact that Ed felt that it was so/so means I have to wait for it to go on sale first.


Thanks for the review and saving me some money Ed!



#7 of 10 Michael Reuben

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Posted June 13 2010 - 05:46 PM

I only enjoyed it a little more than Ed. /img/vbsmilies/htf/smile.gif  It's a rental (or a steeply discounted sale).


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#8 of 10 Adam Gregorich

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Posted June 13 2010 - 05:50 PM

Thanks for the clarification.  I'll wait until its under $10 then.



#9 of 10 Ed Faver

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Posted June 14 2010 - 09:30 AM

David, Southpaw:


I'll give the restaurant sequence another listen. Perhaps I should save '5/5' for reference discs. Still learning what the membership needs in a BD review. I will say I thought the gun chatter, at times, was more realistic than typical movie cannons. I found Wax's silenced handgun sounding more machine-like than the 'blow-gun' sound silencers have been labeled with since the days of early Bond.


Thanks for your feedback, everyone!



#10 of 10 Robert Crawford

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Posted June 19 2010 - 12:44 PM



Originally Posted by Michael Reuben 

I think I enjoyed the film a little more than you did, Ed, but I can't disagree with your analysis. A fun read! /img/vbsmilies/htf/thumbsup.gif


I enjoyed the film especially Travolta's performance.  A lot of great action sequences while I thought the audio was good not great as some others have alluded to as some of the audio track was kind of muted somewhat in my opinion.  I don't know if that was by design or not as louder doesn't necessarily means better audio performance.


Next up, The Boondock Saints.  I know, I'm late to that party.





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