When you see that crazy French filmmaker Luc Besson is involved with a movie, you know you're in for something giddy, energetic, over-the-top, completely ludicrous, crazy, and French. About 80 percent of the time -- The Fifth Element, The Transporter, District B13, etc. -- it's highly entertaining, too.
From Paris with Love falls -- nay, plummets, head first, screaming -- into that category. Besson is only credited with the story (the screenplay is by Adi Hasak, who wrote the forgotten 1997 Charlie Sheen thriller Shadow Conspiracy), but the "story" is an insane conglomeration of twists and turns from a hundred espionage pictures. The film has Besson's Euro-cheesy scent all over it: the gleefully wanton violence, the performances that are somewhere between campy and cool, the dialogue that sounds like it was written in another language and translated inexpertly into English. Besson, who is also the film's producer, is like Michael Bay, only with style and wit.
The director is Pierre Morel, who made the Besson-scripted District B13 and Taken. From Paris with Love isn't as frenetic as the former or as thrilling as the latter, but it's definitely cut from the same cloth. In Paris, a square, eager young man named Reece (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) works as an assistant to the U.S. ambassador (Richard Durden), but on the side he does low-level secret work for what I'm guessing is the CIA. He wants to graduate to special ops, and he gets his chance when he's assigned as a temporary partner to an American spy named Charlie Wax.