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Vol. LXIV, No. 6
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
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For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

THIS BAG CANNOT BE SEIZED BY FRENCH CUSTOMS: James Reece (Jonathan Rhys-Meyer, left) has been assigned by his boss, the U.S Ambassador to France (not shown), to get Charles Wax (John Travolta) through French customs at the airport and then become Wax’s partner in Wax’s assignment from the CIA. Reece cleverly resolves the standoff between Wax and the custom’s officer by slapping a diplomatic mail sticker on Wax’s bag and walking out of the customs office with Wax and the bag in tow.

From Paris with Love: Travolta Takes No Prisoners as the Spy in Espionage Thriller

Kam Williams

A movie titled From Paris with Love automatically invites comparisons with From Russia With Love, the James Bond movie based on Ian Fleming’s spy novel of the same name. From Paris with Love is not an adaptation of a Fleming novel, but is a bombastic remake which brazenly lifts pivotal plot points From Russia With Love. However, Luc Besson and Adi Hasak receive credits for the screenplay and the contribution of the scriptwriters for From Russia With Love is not acknowledged.

For instance, in From Russia, 007 traveled from London to the Soviet embassy in Istanbul to team up with a low-level clerk who was unwittingly being played by a duplicitous villainess who had a top secret, Cold War agenda. This film relies on a 21st century terrorist theme. The CIA sends crack agent Charlie Wax (John Travolta) to the American embassy in Paris where he partners with James Reece (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers), an ambitious clerk who has previously only been assigned menial tasks such as changing diplomats’ license plates. Reece has just accepted a marriage proposal from his beautiful girlfriend Caroline (Kasia Smutniak), and is blissfully unaware of the fey femme fatale’s mysterious link to the Middle East.

Before the couple has a chance to toast their engagement, Reece is summoned by his new partner and drawn away to participate in an operation aimed at the cocaine dealer responsible for the drug overdose of the Secretary of Defense’s daughter. During the ensuing escalating series of bloody events, trigger-happy Wax exhibits none of the charm, subtlety, or elegance associated with Fleming’s descriptions of espionage.

From Paris with Love was directed by Pierre Morel, who has brought us such high body-count adventures as Taken and District B-13. If are a fan of that sort of splatter fare, you will enjoy the grisly scenes in this movie. However, Travolta’s supercilious bravado and his cartoonish antics undercut any tension the production tries to generate.

Very Good (3 stars). Rated R for graphic violence, pervasive profanity, drug use, and brief sexuality. In English and French with subtitles. Running time: 92 Minutes. Distributor: Lionsgate Films.

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

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