From Paris With Love is the third film from director Pierre Morel. While he may not be a household name yet, Morel’s previous efforts have been very successful. In 2004 he directed the fast paced and hyperkinetic Banlieue 13, better known as District 13 and in 2008 he was responsible for the very well received Taken.
From Paris With Love follows in the same vein as both Banlieue 13 and Taken. It’s a quickly paced romp through the streets of Paris with one action scene after another. It feels very much like both of Morel’s previous films. The question is can Morel keep it up for his third effort or has he finally run out of gas?
From Paris With Love tells the story of two CIA agents, James Reese (Jonathan Rhys Meyer) and Charlie Wax (John Travolta). The film has the two agents working together in Paris to stop a terrorist attack. Essentially this is what the story boils down to. Nothing intricate, nothing complex, fairly simple and evidently cliched. The simplicity of the plot, reminiscent of Taken, does include a couple nice twists but other than that it’s fairly straight forward. The movie is essentially an excuse to run around Paris causing chaos, and you can be sure, chaos is caused.
It is clear from the get go that Morel and his crew know how to film an action flick. Of course Morel is no stranger to the genre and it shows in From Paris With Love. All of the action sequences, whether it’s a car chase, shoot out, pursuits or anything else, they are all filmed very well. It is an adrenalized, in your face, barrage of carnage and disaster. It simply does not let up, the film only lasts 92 minutes, but it is a short and sweet ride with Morel behind the camera.
The set pieces, soundtrack and staging only enhance the buzz in the viewer. One particularly exhilarating scene has Travolta hanging out of the car window with a rocket launcher as his car speeds down the road chasing the bad guys. The action in the movie is great and truly enthralling. The dynamic shots flow together with a degree of fluency not seen often in movies today.
Unfortunately the movie falls apart when it comes to the narrative. The narrative simply is missing something. It’s too simple, there is never any suspense in the form of “what’s going to happen next?”. I felt myself caring not so much about the story as I was more interested in watching the next action scene. It’s not the plot that will pull you in, it’s the action. In Morel’s last film, Taken, while the action is great, the narrative is equally compelling. Neeson is in a race for time to find his daughter, the audience is reeled in and empathizes with Neeson’s character and feels that sense of urgency that he does. There is none of that in From Paris With Love.
You never feel that sense of urgency, or that sense of ‘he’s not going to make it’. You will find yourself not caring so much about the outcome as you do the next action set piece. The film does throw a nice twist in near the end, but anyone who has seen their share of spy films will see it coming from a mile out.
Aside from the action, the film gives us two entertaining main characters. Rhys Meyer and Travolta work well together and produce a great dynamic as the mismatched duo. Travolta easily steals the show overshadowing Rhys Meyer in every way. This isn’t to say Rhys Meyer didn’t do a good job, Travolta just cast such a big shadow that was too hard to get out of. This leads to a serious lack of development for Rhys Meyer’s character.
Travolta is clearly loving every minute of this film and it shows. He steals the spotlight in every scene he’s in and he goes over the top with most of his material. Overall it makes for a very enjoyable and entertaining character. Due to the mismatch between the two leads, there is also room for unintentional humor to rise up and this only adds to the enjoyment of watching the characters.
From Paris With Love could be best described as a mindless, buddy cop, action flick. What it lacks in substance it makes up for in pure unadulterated action. While the movie may not have the deepest plot or the most developed characters, it is a fun, short, action filled, adrenaline boosted flick that will easily keep you entertained and enthralled for its short 92 minute run.
Jack Giroux summed it up best in our theatrical review when he said “Every so often an action film arrives that’s so asinine, so ludicrous and (most importantly) so over-the-top that it’s actually worth seeing. From Paris with Love is one of those films and, of course, that’s why it’s ultimately enjoyable.”
It’s true. The film is over the top and at times, completely ludicrous, but it’s a fun, enjoyable and very satisfying viewing experience.
Of course this is a film that you’re probably going to want to watch in Blu-Ray. The sound and picture are magnified and greatly enhance the scope of the film. The action is more in your face and the roller coaster ride that this film is, truly becomes more thrilling.
The Blu-ray presentation of From Paris With Love does not disappoint. The picture is presented in a crystal clear transfer with very strong shadow detail. There really aren’t many digital anomalies to be found here. No artifacting, no edge enhancement etc. The gritty Parisian streets spring to life with strong colour reproductions that look great and black levels that retain their depth. The picture quality looks very good and further serves to engage viewers in the film.
The audio is also great. A dynamic mix provides clean and clear dialogue at all times. The sounds of bullets whizzing by and explosions going off are perfectly tuned so that they enhance the viewer rather than distract. The deep pounding of the gunshots followed by the sounds of shattering glass provide a great atmosphere for the bloody shootouts. The audio is truly immersive and a real treat.
In terms of special features we get quite a bit. The list is as follows:
* BonusView Audio Commentary with Director Pierre Morel – A picture-in-picture commentary with director Pierre Morel.
* From Paris with Love — Making-Of (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 0:26.42)
* Spies, Spooks and Special Ops: Life Under Cover (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 0:16.06)
* Secrets of Spy Craft: Inside the International Spy Museum (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 0:04.26)
* Friend or Foe Trivia Game — Answer trivia questions while watching the film.
* Charlie Wax’s Gun Locker Featurette – An interactive BD-J feature that allows viewers to handle, inspect, and get the specifications on Charlie Wax’s weapons.
* Theatrical Trailer (2.35:1; 1080p/24)
* LG Live — LG Gagdets, Twitter and Facebook Integration, Ringtones, Wallpapers
* Digital Copy
The commentary isn’t great and Morel isn’t a particularly exciting speaker. He makes up for it though with the better than average ‘making of’ feature that I actually enjoyed and found to be pretty informative and interesting. The two spy features don’t really add much to the film and feel somewhat out of place but nevertheless they are welcome.
Movie – 7.5 out of 10
Video – 9 out of 10
Audio – 9 out of 10
Special Features – 7 out 10
Bottom Line: Overall, this is a very nice package. The film itself is a fun and exciting action flick with some truly awesome moments. It looks great on Blu-Ray thanks to the wonderful transfer and will provide a quick adrenaline filled ride that will leave you wanting more.
Are you going to pick up From Paris With Love?
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