Follow us on

Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: From Paris With Love

June 3rd, 2010

From Paris With Love - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

From Paris With Love was a January release... oh boy. Then again, it was written by Luc Besson, who has given us a number of cool action movies over the years. Plus, it was directed by Pierre Morel who has just directed the massive surprise hit, Taken, and who made the breakout hit, District 13, which in just four years has influenced a number of films. Given the type of films these men make, I expected a stylish action film, and nothing more. Some might say I'm setting the bar a little too low, but can the film accomplish this task?

Jonathan Rhys-Meyers stars as James Reese, a low level diplomat at the American embassy, who live with his beautiful fiancée and has what outwardly appears to be a great life. However, he is also a spy for the CIA. Not a very good spy, mind you, but he does the grunt work of changing plates for cars used by real spies while waiting for his big break. That break arrives in the form of Charlie Wax, a loud, brash, overconfident American spy that doesn't play by the book and insert your own Dirty Harry-easque cliché here. Charlie's a shoot first, use explosives second type of guy and he's on a mission. At first this mission involves Chinese drug-smugglers, but that leads them to a terrorist plot, which leads to a well-telegraphed surprise twist.

You can probably tell by my dismissive plot synopsis that this movie didn't impress me. A lot of the problems with this movie stem from the two leads, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers and John Travolta, neither of which show any chemistry here. The film tries to be a buddy cop comedy, but without chemistry, most of the jokes fall flat. This is partially due to the performances, as Jonathan Rhys-Meyers comes off as a little wooden (perhaps he's fighting with his accent) while John Travolta is over-the-top cheese. (Add in some kids and you have a Sean Cullen song.) However, it's not all their fault, as they are not playing well-rounded characters. Since there are no real characters and thus no character development from which to mine humor, we are left with pop culture references, most of which were out of date years ago.

No real characters also means no real motivations, which in turns means the plot never feels organic. It's just one action set piece after another with no reason for the audience to want to follow them. And quite frankly, even the action is not enough of a reason to pay attention. They didn't even give the movie enough style to qualify as Style over Substance. And don't get me started on that scarf Charlie Wax is wearing. I have two ideas why he's wearing that, neither is complimentary. Firstly, they are trying to distract you from how thin the story is in this movie. The other potential reason is to distract you from how ... not thin John Travolta is. As a man who has been on a diet for three years, I am in no position to comment. However, I'm also not trying to make money as an action star.

Extras on the DVD start with an audio commentary track with the director, Pierre Morel. Like many solo tracks, it doesn't have a lot of energy. From Paris With Love - Making-Of is a typical making-of featurette, but it runs 27 minutes long and it is meatier than most. Spies, Spooks, and Special Ops: Life Under Cover is a 16-minute look at real-life spies. Secrets of Spycraft: Inside the International Spy Museum runs just four minutes and it’s a little overly dramatic to be effective.

The Blu-ray upgrades the audio commentary track to a Picture-in-Picture track, but it doesn't solve any of the problems. There is also a Friend of For trivia game. ... I'm not going to watch the movie again to play it all, but the time between the first three questions was a minute each, which is a good pace to keep up. Finally, there is an interactive look at seven of the weapons seen in the movie.

Looking the video quality and I would say it is good for a day-and-date release, but not great. The 7.1 surround sound audio is better with excellent use of the surround sound speakers, especially during the many action scenes.

The Blu-ray does cost 40% more than the DVD, which is a little high, but it does have High Definition exclusive extras, and a digital copy, so this is not too much to ask.

The Verdict

Action film are not a genre known for their intellectually stimulating plots. Don't get me wrong, the best of them have plots that make you think, but they can also barely have a plot and still be quite entertaining. However, From Paris With Love doesn't even get the action scenes right. The DVD and the Blu-ray have a good selection of extras, but I can't even recommend a rental.

- Submitted by:

Filed under: Video Review, From Paris With Love