Wednesday, September 5, 2012

From Paris with a Few Thousand Rounds of Ammunition

For a while now I've been talking about getting back to writing on this blog. One way I've decided to do that is by combining this page with my even more neglected movie review blog over on Wordpress (I really don't care for the format over there, so I'm gonna streamline and post all Movie Nerdfighter posts right here on my main blog. The main way you'll know the difference is my sign off will include "Movie Nerdfighter"). Now, on with the review:

      Tonight I finally sat down and watched From Paris with Love. This is one of those movies that I was so unsure of that I put off seeing it until Netflix was about to drop it from their Instant queue, mainly because I’m very iffy about John Travolta movies lately (ever since Battlefield Earth, honestly). I could rant about why Scientology is to blame, but I’ll let other Internet denizens do that. This is a movie review, not a discussion on “religion.”

      Well, we’re a little slow to start as we set up Jonathan Rhys Meyers’ character, the personal assistant to the US Ambassador in Paris, named Reece. He has a good job, a beautiful girlfriend, just an all over nice life; but he wants more. He’s looking to be a secret agent, and just after his girlfriend proposes to him (complete with her father’s ring), he gets his chance when he’s teamed up with “top agent” Charlie Wax (Travolta).

      The minute Travolta comes in, we know things are gonna change for young Reece because his character, Wax, is mildly demented and totally an American action hero. Reece’s introduction to Wax is in the Parisian Customs interrogation room where Wax refuses to part with is good ol’ American energy drinks and starts doling out the “motherfuckers” to the strict Customs agents who won’t let him bring in his cans. After a quick grammatical history of the word he’s already used about five times in the span of five minutes (this same practice would come in later during the multiple bodies Wax leaves in his wake when Reece says “you’re averaging about one an hour”). Reece uses his diplomatic powers to get the cans through, and the two are off. What Reece thinks will be a simple assignment as driver becomes anything but.

      The story is by Luc Besson, who is, for my money, one of the most fun storytellers in movies today. I don’t know why we don’t see the projects he directs make it over to the States as much (I’m still waiting for The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec to be released over here), seeming to be happier as a producer or writer for larger budget action movies, possibly to finance his own directorial pursuits, but his stories are still entertaining as hell and this was no exception. In true Besson-action form, there is a huge body count, numerous explosions, and a woman to die for. This is definitely one of his more popcorn pieces, but even then there is some very interesting relationship dynamics that come into play.

      From the start, Wax puts both Reece and the audience off their game, and neither really recovers until we reach the twist (which is really good and I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen the movie). I’ll just say that it’s definitely worth the rental and it’s a lot of fun. You would be doing yourself a favor checking this one out when you get the chance, even if Wax’s character is a general rehashing of every action role Travolta has played since his comeback in 1994’s Pulp Fiction (even to the point of Wax’s “vice” being the coveted Royale with Cheese in a golden styrofoam container delivered by his mysterious trenchcoat-wearing contacts).

This is going to be the first of many movie reviews I'll be posting as I'm trying to complete a film challenge over on Tumblr, 365 Films in 365 Days.  As with most things I do, I'm behind on this challenge, way behind, but I feel I can make a comeback.

William, the Movie Nerdfighter
who really wishes that some studio would have the stones to release Besson's Taxi series over here instead of leaving us with the horrible aftertaste that is the Queen Latifah/Jimmy Fallon train wreck

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