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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

From Paris With Love

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

Though at times it tries to pass itself off as a cautionary tale with serious moral overtones, the espionage thriller "From Paris With Love" (Lionsgate) for the most part registers instead as a straightforward buddy movie, and a gleefully violent one at that.

The initially ill-matched partners at the center of the story are Paris-based American diplomat and low-level CIA agent James Reese (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) and Charlie Wax (John Travolta), a trigger-happy visiting operative Reese has been instructed to escort and assist.

Despite his aspirations to be a real spy, Reese's previous intelligence work has been confined to activities like changing the license plates on agency autos to prevent their being traced. So at first he looks forward to this latest assignment as a chance to break into the big leagues.

But Wax proves far more of a loose cannon than the buttoned-up Reece had bargained for, and Wax's wild pursuit of drug dealers and terrorists sees the pair cutting a bloody swath through the French capital's criminal underworld.

Bewildered as the bullets—and the bodies—fly, Reese pauses briefly to wash telltale gore off his face and stare glumly into the mirror, wondering about it all. But the next moment he's off again, one step behind Wax on their renewed rampage.

Reese's prolonged absence from home leads to friction with his live-in Gallic girlfriend Caroline (Kasia Smutniak). Her somewhat surprising depth of devotion has been signaled earlier by a scene in which she proposed to Reese, presenting him with a wedding-bandlike ring that, so she explained, had once belonged to her father.

Domestic tranquility suffers a further setback when Caroline, shopping for dress material in a depressed neighborhood she wouldn't normally frequent, spots Reese and Wax getting into an elevator with a streetwalker in tow.

Though Reese ultimately has nothing to do with this shady lady the newly minted pals have picked up in their travels, Wax and she share an encounter in a bathroom raucous enough to be audible both to Reese and to the audience.

While, as directed by Pierre Morel, the dialogue in Adi Hasak's F-word-heavy script is occasionally amusing, this hardly compensates for the fact that the film—based on a story by Luc Besson—glamorizes Wax's utter disregard for the lives of those on either side of the law, unmistakably relishes the mayhem that results and presents that tawdry restroom coupling as just another of Wax's endearing madcap adventures.

The film contains constant, sometimes bloody action violence, off-screen sexual activity with a prostitute, cohabitation, drug use, a couple of profanities and pervasive rough and much crude language. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is O—morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R—restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.



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Thomas Aquinas: By universal consent, Thomas Aquinas is the preeminent spokesman of the Catholic tradition of reason and of divine revelation. He is one of the great teachers of the medieval Catholic Church, honored with the titles Doctor of the Church and Angelic Doctor. 
<p>At five he was given to the Benedictine monastery at Monte Cassino in his parents’ hopes that he would choose that way of life and eventually became abbot. In 1239 he was sent to Naples to complete his studies. It was here that he was first attracted to Aristotle’s philosophy. </p><p>By 1243, Thomas abandoned his family’s plans for him and joined the Dominicans, much to his mother’s dismay. On her order, Thomas was captured by his brother and kept at home for over a year. </p><p>Once free, he went to Paris and then to Cologne, where he finished his studies with Albert the Great. He held two professorships at Paris, lived at the court of Pope Urban IV, directed the Dominican schools at Rome and Viterbo, combated adversaries of the mendicants, as well as the Averroists, and argued with some Franciscans about Aristotelianism. </p><p>His greatest contribution to the Catholic Church is his writings. The unity, harmony and continuity of faith and reason, of revealed and natural human knowledge, pervades his writings. One might expect Thomas, as a man of the gospel, to be an ardent defender of revealed truth. But he was broad enough, deep enough, to see the whole natural order as coming from God the Creator, and to see reason as a divine gift to be highly cherished. </p><p>The <i>Summa Theologiae</i>, his last and, unfortunately, uncompleted work, deals with the whole of Catholic theology. He stopped work on it after celebrating Mass on December 6, 1273. When asked why he stopped writing, he replied, “I cannot go on.... All that I have written seems to me like so much straw compared to what I have seen and what has been revealed to me.” He died March 7, 1274.</p> American Catholic Blog We talk often about how we are God’s “hands and feet,” which is true. That being said, we can’t fall into the trap of thinking God needs us like we need Him. He’s God—which makes the reality that He wants to use us and be in a relationship with us an even sweeter, more profound truth.

 
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