From Paris, With Hate

You may notice that the word ‘Review’ is glaringly absent from the title today, because I can’t really give you a review of From Paris, With Love. That would require actually watching the whole movie.

But for the first time ever, I walked out of a screening. Let me recount the series of events that led to this drastic and unprecedented decision on my part.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I must mention that I have had a nasty cold all week, with bouts of insomnia to boot.  Just letting you know that I was not feeling my best to begin with. I also toyed with the idea of not covering the movie because John Travolta’s performance in The Taking Of Pelham 123 permanently scarred me.

Furthermore, the trailers for Old Dogs did little to boost my confidence in the actor’s career trajectory. However, I take my duties seriously, and decided to give it a shot.

The opening sequences were innocuous enough.  A bland and boring Jonathan Rhys Meyers plays a government worker (James) at the U.S. embassy in France who is jockeying for a position in the CIA.  His big break comes when he is called upon to partner up with Charlie Wax (John Travolta.)

If From Paris, With Love were a hand-knit sweater, this is where someone pulls a string, and the whole thing unravels. Travolta plays his character so over the top that it is unwatchable. It is Ryder, from The Taking of Pelham, redux, only with less hair and more cussing. Dear Hollywood, a character’s tough quotient is not in direct proportion to the amount of f-bombs dropped. Just wanted to clear that up, because you seem to think otherwise.

Yep, the motherf!$2@ers fly fast and furious, bested only to the body count. Lots and lots of senseless violence and shootings that have nothing to do with plot development. In fact, they serve no purpose at all outside pure visceral appeal.

Director Pierre Morel (Taken) likes to include lots of exploding kneecaps, and slow-motion kills.  I really don’t mind violence, but it made no sense.

The dialogue?  Atrocious. Charlie says to one thug “Wax on, wax off.” Get it? Because his last name is Wax. There are lots of similar knee-slappers peppered throughout.

In one of the first scenes, Charlie  and James go to a Chinese restaurant, and Charlie becomes angry and kills everyone in the restaurant. He then shoots up the ceiling, which literally  starts raining cocaine.  Seriously.

He then instructs James to empty a flower vase and fill it with cocaine.  James proceeds to carry this vase of cocaine around, even during the next shootout.

Then came my moment of epiphany, 38 minutes into the movie.  Travolta’s character was running (in slo-mo) toward the camera, with both hands outstretched, shooting to his sides.  It looked exactly like the scene from Wolverine when Hugh Jackman is running toward the camera, scraping his knives on the walls, but with a middle aged bald man instead of a palatable chiseled treat.

I quickly calculated that I had another 54 minutes if I was going to gut this out.  It occurred to me that no one was making me stay.  I was there of my own volition, and of my own free will I did leave.

For all I know, at the 39 minute mark the film took a coherent turn for the better, but somehow I doubt it.  I feel guilty about leaving, but if you have no semblance of a plot 38 minutes in, I quit you.

I just couldn’t take one more minute.  I love movies, but I have my limits.  Life is too short to watch crappy movies. Disagree with me?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

I have heard rumors that there were people who actually loved John Travolta’s performance in The Taking Pelham 123.  If you are out there, by all means run like the demons of hell are chasing you and catch From Paris, With Love. As for me, I think I will be recusing myself from reviewing his future films.

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  • Bob Starr
    February 6, 2010 at 3:30 am

    I have no doubt, Shannon, that your early assessment of how the film would play out is exactly right. Furthermore, you certainly gave many more exampls of why this film clearly sucks behind a number of F-bombs. Too bad really, because director Pierre Morel did a great job with Taken.

    It’s a sad state to see Travolta in. He use to be one of the really cool bad guys (e.g. Broken Arrow, Swordfish, Pulp Fiction). Guess he’s run out of ways to make his characters compelling, and has resorted to cliches and stereotypes (and perhaps ripping off Wolverine). He wasn’t even that interesting in Pelham 123, and for the most part phoned in his role, literally in many scenes.

    Great job, and I applaud you for walking out.

    • Shannon Hood
      February 7, 2010 at 12:18 pm

      @Bob Starr. Thanks. I think even in some of those older roles, I just never found Travolta menacing, so it is a personal prejudice. I do think that there are quite a few people who liked “Taken”, but did not care for this.

  • Shannon Hood
    February 5, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    @Farkwad, Anyone who knows me would find your comment humorous. I don’t have a problem with the word F!@k, but I do have a problem with lazy screenwriting. Pervasive cussing is not a a substitute for proper character development and appropriate casting.

    John Travolta can’t pull this off. I would have bought it coming from Bruce Willis, but no matter how many times John Travolta says motherf!@#ers, he will never be convincing as a badass.

  • Farkwad
    February 5, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    Get over your prudish weirdness about the word fuck. It’s a believable word for a motherfucking bad-ass to use. Fuck is not the end of the world. Fuck is fun to say. Fuck your stick up the ass aversion to the word Fuck. I enjoy it as an exclamative. I think it’s realistic and honest to the character saying it. If you’re allergic to the word FUCK you are so removed from real life that your children will likely join a cult one day.

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