Wednesday, March 21 , 2018, 7:08 pm | Light Rain Fog/Mist 57º


Cinema in Focus: ‘From Paris With Love’

Violent, disturbing and misnamed, the film is not supportive of the power of love

1 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 the From Paris With Love tale of terror by Pierre Morel.

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. 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 aide to the U.S. ambassador to France, James is a CIA wannabe. Although he is brilliant, Reece doesn’t exhibit the usual personality of an agent. But when given the responsibility of driving Wax from the airport, they begin a partnership that exposes both his abilities and vulnerabilities.

The action focuses on Mideast terrorists who scheme to attack a diplomatic gathering in Paris, which includes the U.S. 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.


» The love that 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?

» In this film, the violence of Wax’s methods is tolerated by the CIA. Do you believe the real CIA would tolerate such an agent?

» It’s 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?

— Cinema in Focus is a social and spiritual movie commentary. Hal Conklin is former mayor of Santa Barbara and Denny Wayman is pastor of Free Methodist Church, 1435 Cliff Drive. For more reviews, visit

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >