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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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Lorenzo Ruiz and Companions: Lawrence (Lorenzo) was born in Manila of a Chinese father and a Filipino mother, both Christians. Thus he learned Chinese and Tagalog from them and Spanish from the Dominicans whom he served as altar boy and sacristan. He became a professional calligrapher, transcribing documents in beautiful penmanship. He was a full member of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary under Dominican auspices. He married and had two sons and a daughter. 
<p>His life took an abrupt turn when he was accused of murder. Nothing further is known except the statement of two Dominicans that "he was sought by the authorities on account of a homicide to which he was present or which was attributed to him." </p><p>At that time three Dominican priests, Antonio Gonzalez, Guillermo Courtet and Miguel de Aozaraza, were about to sail to Japan in spite of a violent persecution there. With them was a Japanese priest, Vicente Shiwozuka de la Cruz, and a layman named Lazaro, a leper. Lorenzo, having taken asylum with them, was allowed to accompany them. But only when they were at sea did he learn that they were going to Japan. </p><p>They landed at Okinawa. Lorenzo could have gone on to Formosa, but, he reported, "I decided to stay with the Fathers, because the Spaniards would hang me there." In Japan they were soon found out, arrested and taken to Nagasaki. The site of wholesale bloodshed when the atomic bomb was dropped had known tragedy before. The 50,000 Catholics who once lived there were dispersed or killed by persecution. </p><p>They were subjected to an unspeakable kind of torture: After huge quantities of water were forced down their throats, they were made to lie down. Long boards were placed on their stomachs and guards then stepped on the ends of the boards, forcing the water to spurt violently from mouth, nose and ears. </p><p>The superior, Antonio, died after some days. Both the Japanese priest and Lazaro broke under torture, which included the insertion of bamboo needles under their fingernails. But both were brought back to courage by their companions. </p><p>In Lorenzo's moment of crisis, he asked the interpreter, "I would like to know if, by apostatizing, they will spare my life." The interpreter was noncommittal, but Lorenzo, in the ensuing hours, felt his faith grow strong. He became bold, even audacious, with his interrogators. </p><p>The five were put to death by being hanged upside down in pits. Boards fitted with semicircular holes were fitted around their waists and stones put on top to increase the pressure. They were tightly bound, to slow circulation and prevent a speedy death. They were allowed to hang for three days. By that time Lorenzo and Lazaro were dead. The three Dominican priests, still alive, were beheaded. </p><p>In 1987, Blessed John Paul II canonized these six and 10 others, Asians and Europeans, men and women, who spread the faith in the Philippines, Formosa and Japan. Lorenzo Ruiz is the first canonized Filipino martyr.</p> American Catholic Blog We don’t have to scrub off our sin so God can love us. Instead, when we allow God’s healing love to touch us, we want to leave sin behind. Growth starts in love, not in guilt.

 
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