One Star – Disturbing
When our love for someone requires that we kill as an expression of such “love,” then love is only an illusion. Neither is it love when the one who claims to love us requires us to seduce or manipulate someone else. These messages are woven into this tale of terror by Pierre Morel in his film “From Paris With Love.”
Partnering once more with author Luc Besson, this film uses the same violence as in their former film “Taken.” But rather than an anguished father trying to save his daughter who was “taken,” this film centers on what at first seems to be a misanthropic agent whose brutality lacks compassion for his fellow human beings. But as the story unwinds we discover the human side of Charlie Wax (John Travolta) as he reaches out to his novice partner, James Reece ( Jonathan Rhys Meyers).
An aid to the U.S. ambassador to France, James is a CIA wannabe. Although he is brilliant, James does not exhibit the usual personality of an agent. But when given the responsibility of driving Charlie from the airport, they begin a partnership which exposes both his abilities and vulnerabilities.
The action focuses on Mideast terrorists who scheme to attack a diplomatic gathering in Paris which includes the United States Secretary of Defense. Predictably everyone in the film eventually plays their part in both the deceit and the danger.
Presenting a low view of humanity, this film suggests that violence is the only solution to the difficulties of life. Contrasting the effectiveness of violence with that of love, love is found lacking. This is a sad message in a world where love is our only hope and where violence is terrorizing us all.
Violent and disturbing, “From Paris With Love” is misnamed and is therefore an ironic commentary on the lack of love in the lives of its characters.
Discussion for those who have seen this film:
1. The love which James has for Caroline (Kasia Smutniak) compels him to reach out to her in the end. Yet it was Caroline’s love for Rashid (Chems Dahmani) that drove her to behave in such a subhuman way. How would you contrast their two expressions of love?
2. In this film, the violence of Charlie’s methods is tolerated by the CIA. Do you believe the real Central Intelligence Agency of the United States would tolerate such an agent?
3. It is difficult to trust the people in your life when you have been deceived by a person you thought loved you. Have you ever experienced this and how did it end up?