From Paris with Love and District B13: Ultimatum: I understand that the Luc Besson Eurotrash hit factory can’t spend all of their time and resources making Transporter movies. In fact, it breaks my heart to report that Taken, that franchise’s inferior (albeit Liam Neeson-led) sibling, grossed more in the U.S. than the entire Transporter trilogy combined [But… Taken! The greatest movie ever made about every macho overprotective chastity-obsessed American father’s incestuous desire for his teen daughter! —Ed.]. Taken director Pierre Morel returns with another Besson production featuring a mid-level movie star: From Paris with Love stars John Travolta in what looks like hammy junk mode, which is far less enjoyable than the corresponding mode from Face/Off co-star Nicolas Cage (never the twain shall meet again, I guess, but why hasn’t Cage done a Besson movie yet?). My disappointment with Taken, which was only about forty percent as fucking awesome as the trailer made it look [Yes but it was about one hundred and forty percent more awesomely Freudian and Bush-allegorical! It’s a movie about how the War on Terror was W sublimating his desire to fuck Jenna, basically. —Ed.], means I’m more reluctant than usual to check out Besson’s latest, especially with Jonathan Rhys Meyers doing that same awful corn-fed American accent that they make every sexy British dude put on, even in movies that are set in Europe.
Also out this week, in more limited release: the Besson-penned District 13: Ultimatum, a sequel to Morel’s parkour-festooned District B13. Come to think of it, the original District B13 was vaguely disappointing in sort of the same way Taken was, so maybe Morel is the problem here. He’s out for the sequel, but Henry Stewart’s review makes it sound like a bit of a comedown regardless, and frankly, the second half of the original was a bit of a comedown from the first already. So I may or may not spend this weekend watching Besson productions, but I hope Besson spends his writing Transporter 4. [Or Taken 2: Taken Again, for a Second Time. —Ed.]
Dear John: You can read my review to find out how I dealt with my first trip into Nicholas Sparksland since The Notebook. Here I’ll just say that I thought this movie was going to make a ton of money until I saw it; it still might rake in some Valentine’s Day cash, but I can’t imagine the Notebook crowd getting early as excited about this even-more-chaste iteration, which is mainly about how if you find yourself trapped in some kind of time-travel paradox where everyone claims it’s the aughts but continues to act as if they’re in a 40s WWII weeper, it’s best to be self-sacrificing to the point of absurdity—actually, to the point of being kind of selfish.
Frozen: After Blair Witch, Open Water, and Paranormal Activity, I guess the gauntlet has finally been thrown for limited-location thrillers. Frozen played at Sundance alongside Buried, but without trilogy-capper Rolled in a Carpet and Thrown Off a Bridge. Frozen is about being stuck on a ski lift. Seriously. I am all for terrifying minimalism, but it should ideally be the situation that’s terrifying, not the minimalism itself.
Red Riding Trilogy: Film Editor Mark Asch confirms that this group of true-crime stories, playing at IFC Center in triple-feature format (plus free popcorn!), is basically like super-Zodiac and it sounds awesome. However: I’m dragging my feet a little on the six-hour running time. Maybe I’ll wait for the one-at-a-time version or, like The Wire, another unique cultural event I’m sure I’d love, maybe I’ll save it for my retirement.