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From Paris with Love(2010)
A personal aide to U.S. Ambassador in France, James Reece has an enviable life in Paris and a beautiful French girlfriend, but his real passion is his side job as a low-level operative for the CIA. All James wants is to become a bona fide agent and see some real action. So when he's offered his first senior- level assignment, he can't believe his good luck until he meets his new partner, special agent Charlie Wax - a trigger-happy, wisecracking, loose cannon who's been sent to Paris to stop a terrorist attack. Wax leads James on a white-knuckle shooting spree through the Parisian underworld that has James praying for his desk job. But when James discovers he's a target of the same crime ring they're trying to bust, he realizes there's no turning back...and that Wax himself might be his only hope for making it through the next forty-eight hours alive.
For more about From Paris with Love and the From Paris with Love Blu-ray release, see From Paris with Love Blu-ray Review published by Dustin Somner on May 29, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: John Travolta, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Kasia Smutniak, Richard Durden, Amber Rose Revah, Bing Yin
Director: Pierre Morel
» See full cast & crew
From Paris with Love Blu-ray Review
Travolta proves he still has the goods.
Reviewed by Dustin Somner, May 29, 2010
If you enjoy action movies, chances are good you've heard the name Luc Besson. Known internationally for his jack-of-all-trades style (often switching between writing, directing, and producing), the French filmmaker has developed a reputation for favoring style over substance, which often results in unfavorable opinions among the usual community of film critics. While I agree he's produced and written his fair share of superficial fare (The Transporter Trilogy, Taxi, District B13), he's also the mastermind behind a number of undeniable cinema classics (Nikita, Leon, The Big Blue, and The Fifth Element).
Though Luc Besson chose not to sit in the director's seat on From Paris with Love, he's credited with developing the story for the film, which contains his usual flair for theatrics and over-the-top action. Ushering back Pierre Morel as director (hot off the success of Taken), the film was produced by Besson's studio (EuropaCorp), and stars John Travolta in one of his wildest performances since Battlefield Earth.
James Reese (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) lives an enviable life as the personal aide for the U.S. ambassador to France. Between his beautiful fiancÚ, a posh Paris apartment, and a closet full of designer suits, one would assume he's content in living life among the rich and powerful. However, Reese shows little interest in settling for this normal public life. In secret, he works as a low-level government agent on assignments that include wire tapping, switching license plates, and other odd jobs. Frequently requesting missions that include higher-level espionage, Reese eventually gets his big break when he's partnered with a U.S. operative named Charlie Wax (John Travolta). After springing Wax from the grips of French customs agents, Reese follows his peculiar new comrade on what initially appears to be a wild goose chase through the seedy underworld of Chinese drug trafficking. Moving from one supplier to the next, Wax soon reveals the nature of their true mission, which involves a middle-eastern terrorist cell operating in the heart of France. When it becomes clear Reese is connected in some way to the terrorists, concerns mount over an upcoming French summit, and the questionable safety of the participating world leaders. As the body count continues to multiply, Wax shows Reese what it means to be a good guy in a world where only bad guys exist.
I'll probably take some heat for this, but I actually found a lot to like about From Paris with Love. I can certainly understand the reasoning behind the negative reviews and the resulting box office failure, but when you evaluate the film based on fun-factor alone, you can't help but throw your thumb skyward. Granted the film contains one of the most preposterous plots in the history of action cinema, and it tends to start off a bit slow, but once we're introduced to the character of Charlie Wax all worries quickly disappear. I can't recall another character in recent memory that manages to be as likeable and off-putting at the same time, providing a perfect contrast to the straight-laced style of James Reece. When he's not shoving his gun in someone's face and shooting up every establishment he visits, Wax engages in public drug use and other activities unbecoming of a government agent. This reckless abandon initially feels out of place in the context of the first 20 minutes of the film, but once you grow accustomed to the endearing side of the character, his antics become increasingly believable within the context of the plot (for this viewer, that precise moment occurred during the scene where Wax single-handedly takes out a group of eight Chinese gangbangers using their own weapons).
Given the lack of realism in the overall plot, I wasn't overly concerned with the particulars of the main mission Reese and Wax undertake. To be clear, this is a key factor in whether or not you'll enjoy the entire film, since the plot merely offers a shallow link between the violently-staged action sequences. It's clear Besson attempted to inject fleeting moments of tragedy intended to highlight the human condition, but given the prevalence of comedy and brutal violence, these scenes rarely carry much weight (not to mention lasting impact). This won't be a problem for fans of the Transporter series, or any other mindless action film released in the past decade, but may dismay potential viewers who sign up for the ride expecting a film like Taken.
Ultimately, there are two reasons to watch From Paris with Love, and they are (in no particular order) John Travolta and a healthy dose of grin-inducing violence. Beginning with the magnetism of Travolta, I have to admit it's been several years since I've found a reason to get excited about Mr. Saturday Night Fever. In fact, aside from a cross-dressing stint in Hairspray, I can't recall any memorable roles worth mentioning during the past decade. He's had his fair share of cringe-inducing characters (Battlefield Earth, Swordfish, The Punisher), which served as proof that he needed to find a new manager, but at the end of the day Travolta is long overdue for a career reawakening. Charlie Wax won't be a performance on anyone's memory come Oscar season, but the intensity injected into the role is spot-on, leaving the impression he'll do just about anything in the interest of his occupation. The second element that elevates the take-away value on From Paris with Love is the well-designed action throughout the film. We can all admit it's a bit preposterous to envision a high-speed car chase featuring a crazy guy leaning out the passenger side window with a rocket launcher, but the mere inclusion of a scene like that simply demonstrates the outlandish action we come to expect by the conclusion of the film. If you enjoy other genre entries such as Shoot 'Em Up or Smoking Aces, it's safe to say From Paris with Love is right up your alley.
From Paris with Love Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in 1080p utilizing the AVC codec (at an average bitrate of 32Mpbs), From Paris with Love appears reasonably proficient on this high-definition release, though my perceptions were tempered slightly by stylistic choices in the cinematography. Fine object detail falls within average territory, lending subtle textures a hazy nuance that never fully allows for the crisp precision on top tier transfers. Likewise, the coloring spectrum for the film often incorporates drab hues that demonstrate a shift toward reds or yellows. It's not drastic enough to paint the film in an unnatural light, but viewers looking for a full-spectrum Blu-ray may need to look elsewhere. On the positive side, black levels retain adequate depth in all but a handful of shots, contrast demonstrates excellent shade separation (though there are several scenes that appear intentionally hazy), and I never detected the presence of edge enhancement, artifacting, or other digital anomaly. Those with an aversion to film grain should be aware there's a pronounced layer that permeates most scenes with unobtrusive grit, but given the nature of the film, this should be viewed as a stylistic approach within the cinematography.
In the end, From Paris with Love won't rank among your top choices for visual demo material, but considering the gritty style of the production, I'd wager this is an accurate reproduction of the source material.
From Paris with Love Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Continuing with their usual practice of offering a lossless 7.1 track on newly released action flicks, Lionsgate delivers another stunning audio experience, chock full of wild effects that are sure to delight the child in all of us. Naturally, you'll have to be patient through the initial slow section of the film before things take a turn for the better, but by the time Wax lights up the Chinese restaurant with guns blazing it becomes clear we're in for an immersive track. From that point forward, we have explosions, multiple gun-fights, a car chase, and more explosions. Spread across eight speakers, these effects place you in the heart of the action, and remind us why we invested in a subwoofer. Granted there are several nitpicks that hold this back from the coveted 5/5 designation (why oh why do silencers sound so weak?), including occasionally soft dialog, but those minor gripes are hardly a concern when the action at the heart of the film sounds this good.
If you upgraded to 7.1 during the inception of Blu-ray in hopes the wider spectrum would take off among all major studios, this is another excellent title to include in your collection. We can all collectively thank Lionsgate for stepping up to the plate.
From Paris with Love Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
BonusView: Audio Commentary with Director Pierre Morel: unlike your typical audio-only commentary track, this supplement presents Morel in a window located at the bottom corner of the screen as he discusses the film from a screening booth. Considering Morel didn't write the film, he offers comments on working with the actors, the choreography of the action scenes, and technical aspects of the cinematography/sets.
From Paris with Love Making-of (1080p, Dolby Digital 2.0, 26:42 min): This behind-the-scenes featurette includes interviews with director Pierre Morel and other members of the cast or crew, as they discuss their experiences on the film and provide insight into the filming of several key sequences.
Spies, Spooks and Special Ops: Life Under Cover (1080p, Dolby Digital 2.0, 16:06 min): Consisting of interviews with several former CIA operatives and a historian on international espionage, this supplement seems a bit sensationalized in its approach to the subject matter, but should be worthwhile to anyone with an interest in the hush-hush occupation of a spy.
Secrets of Spy Craft: Inside the International Spy Museum (1080p, Dolby Digital 2.0, 4:26 min): Presented as a marketing tool for the Spy Museum in Washington DC, this supplement takes viewers on a tour of the displays and artifacts located within the museum.
Friend or Foe Trivia Game (1080p): If you've watched the film enough to feel confident in trying your luck at a trivia challenge (which asks a question every minute during the film), this will make for an enjoyable outing.
Charlie Wax's Gun Locker Featurette (1080p): This goofy supplement allows you to choose one of seven firearms used in the film, and select from a series of options that present specs, scenes from the film (in which the weapon was used), or quotes involving the piece of equipment.
Rounding out the extras, we have a high-definition trailer for From Paris with Love, and an "Also from Lionsgate" collection of clips.
From Paris with Love Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
While it's certainly not highbrow entertainment for the intellectually focused, From Paris with Love has a clearly defined audience, and caters nearly every minute of the runtime to their taste. I'm not typically one to enjoy a brainless action film of this nature, but compared with films such as Gamer, Crank, or even The Transporter, this entry emerges a clear winner (in my book), and deserves enough respect to warrant one or two viewings.
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From Paris with Love Blu-ray, News and Updates
• From Paris with Love Announced on Blu-ray - March 31, 2010
Lionsgate Home Entertainment has announced From Paris with Love on Blu-ray for June 8. This action movie, starring John Travolta and Jonathan Rhys Meyers, directed by Pierre Morel and co-written and co-produced by Luc Besson, aimed to repeat the unexpected success ...
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