LESS than a year ago I was in very similar territory. With a small selection of film releases out, and much to my dismay, my only option was to watch the generic action film of the week. The Taking of Pelham 123 was as predictable as they come but it was


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LESS than a year ago I was in very similar territory.

With a small selection of film releases out, and much to my dismay, my only option was to watch the generic action film of the week.

The Taking of Pelham 123 was as predictable as they come but it was still a fun ride.

Not that I minded too much watching a film like that, same this week, as it's refreshing watching something with lots of explosions and dodgy acting.

But I have that slight sense of déjà vu as this one, along with the aforementioned one last July, stars John Travolta as a man with a less-than-good mission.

This time though he has no hair and a very dodgy goatee beard.

In terms of transformations it's hardly Christian Bale for The Machinist or Robert De Niro for Raging Bull, and he still has that slight arrogant way about him in the trailer that I can't stand.

But From Paris with Love is directed by the competent French newcomer Pierre Morel, whose last hit was with the Angelina Jolie critical success Taken. He has a style about him that is contagious and this will be interesting to see if he can take an actor whose been a disappointment for nearly two decades now and relinquish some critical credibility to his recent efforts.

But, if I'm honest, the Paris setting will gain marks from me (assuming the cinematography is up to standard), as I love the city a ridiculous amount.

Thoughts Afterwards

IN a nation ravished by hardship following the worst recession in a century it's crucial to offer the consumer plenty of bang for their buck.

The likes of Avatar, nearly three hours and looking gorgeous, certainly paid it's £10 entry fee in sheer entertainment and innovation.

Other major releases, such as The Princess and the Frog or Precious, may have lacked the budget and explosions but certainly offered up two hours worth of emotional resonance that more than made up for it.

And then there's From Paris with Love, a waste of money that barely stretched over an hour and twenty minutes. In an age of little spare money for entertainment, where we only a few opportunities to enjoy an evening of culture, there is no excuse to offer up something so empty and short.

Although it's little consolation, as a short paragraph like this will explain a bulk of the whole film, but I think it's worth knowing the basic premise (as pointless and inane as it is).

The star of the show is Jonathan Rhys Meyers, that bloke who was Henry VIII in The Tudors, who plays a young worker in the US Ambassadors office in Paris. He seems to have a yearning to be James Bond or something and is in constant contact with a voice on the phone, who is apparently someone representing the US government, telling him to do all sorts of minor things for national security.

He gets the call that his partner has landed at a Paris airport for a bigger job, something of a promotion in spy stakes, and he relishes this opportunity to do riskier work of higher importance - that is until he see's that his partner is bad boy, bald John Travolta!

Storming restaurants with bullets and generally being bulky and mawkish, Travolta's character Charlie Wax (constantly called "Wax" in some desperate attempt by the makers to make him some kind of new action hero) is the bad cop to Meyer's good cop - all for the name of American national security!

It's the usual patriotic tripe that we're used to, and just as the script seemed to get a grip of itself and started going somewhere (about an hour in) the film ends very shortly afterwards.

A minor predictable twist couldn't save it, and nor could a concluding dramatic scene that was the most cheesily written piece of rubbish I've even had to witness. Even the flawed anti-hero Charlie Wax hanging out of a passenger window of a speeding car holding a rocket launcher was terrible.

Director Pierre Morel hit action gold with Wanted but seems to have done what so many potential geniuses do (see: the director of Donnie Darko, whose two movies since have been dire) - go from gold to coal.

From Paris With Love had all the aspects to be this years In Bruge (probably my favourite gun touting action movie of recent times, although it's more of a drama in some ways) but ended up being a waste of time, money and cinematography - this is the first film I've seen that made Paris seem ordinary...

TIM LINCE

1/5 STARS