FROM PARIS WITH LOVE
Release Date: June 8, 2010
Packaging/Materials: Two-disc Blu-ray case with slipcover
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
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.
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.
"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.
ExtrasThis 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.
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.
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.
In SummarySorry 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/