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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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John Paul II: “Open wide the doors to Christ,” urged John Paul II during the homily at the Mass when he was installed as pope in 1978. <br /><br />Born in Wadowice, Poland, Karol Jozef Wojtyla had lost his mother, father and older brother before his 21st birthday. Karol’s promising academic career at Krakow’s Jagiellonian University was cut short by the outbreak of World War II. While working in a quarry and a chemical factory, he enrolled in an “underground” seminary in Kraków. Ordained in 1946, he was immediately sent to Rome where he earned a doctorate in theology. <br /><br />Back in Poland, a short assignment as assistant pastor in a rural parish preceded his very fruitful chaplaincy for university students. Soon he earned a doctorate in philosophy and began teaching that subject at Poland’s University of Lublin. <br /><br />Communist officials allowed him to be appointed auxiliary bishop of Kraków in 1958, considering him a relatively harmless intellectual. They could not have been more wrong! <br /><br />He attended all four sessions of Vatican II and contributed especially to its <em>Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World</em>. Appointed as archbishop of Kraków in 1964, he was named a cardinal three years later. <br /><br />Elected pope in October 1978, he took the name of his short-lived, immediate predecessor. Pope John Paul II was the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. In time, he made pastoral visits to 124 countries, including several with small Christian populations. <br /><br />He promoted ecumenical and interfaith initiatives, especially the 1986 Day of Prayer for World Peace in Assisi. He visited Rome’s Main Synagogue and the Western Wall in Jerusalem; he also established diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Israel. He improved Catholic-Muslim relations and in 2001 visited a mosque in Damascus, Syria. <br /><br />The Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, a key event in John Paul’s ministry, was marked by special celebrations in Rome and elsewhere for Catholics and other Christians. Relations with the Orthodox Churches improved considerably during his ministry as pope. <br /><br />“Christ is the center of the universe and of human history” was the opening line of his 1979 encyclical, <em>Redeemer of the Human Race</em>. In 1995, he described himself to the United Nations General Assembly as “a witness to hope.” <br /><br />His 1979 visit to Poland encouraged the growth of the Solidarity movement there and the collapse of communism in central and eastern Europe 10 years later. He began World Youth Day and traveled to several countries for those celebrations. He very much wanted to visit China and the Soviet Union but the governments in those countries prevented that. <br /><br />One of the most well-remembered photos of his pontificate was his one-on-one conversation in 1983 with Mehmet Ali Agca, who had attempted to assassinate him two years earlier. <br /><br />In his 27 years of papal ministry, John Paul II wrote 14 encyclicals and five books, canonized 482 saints and beatified 1,338 people. <br /><br />In the last years of his life, he suffered from Parkinson’s disease and was forced to cut back on some of his activities. <br /><br />Pope Benedict XVI beatified John Paul II in 2011, and Pope Francis canonized him in 2014. American Catholic Blog Lord, may I have balance and measure in everything—except in Love. —St. Josemaría Escrivá

 
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