John Travolta: from Vinnie Barbarino to Scientology spokesman, this guy’s had more career ups and downs than Tila Tequila. As of late, he’s been squandering all of his goodwill in lame family comedies, but this weekend’s release of From Paris With Love looks like a grab for some serious cred, in a bang-up action flick directed by French prodigy Pierre Morel. So how does it stack up?
I’ll be straight right off the bat: From Paris With Love is a mixed bag. Like many action films of the neo-French school, it trades heavily in setpieces for big thrills, but the space in between the big scenes often seems like so much dead air. Thankfully, a lot of that is filled with two actors going wild on their ludicrous roles. Jonathan Rhys Meyers (from The Tudors) plays James Reese, a low-level CIA operative who dreams of getting into the big action. Unfortunately, he does so under the tutelage of Travolta’s Charlie Wax, who likes to shoot first and maybe ask questions sometime in the undefined future. It isn’t long before the dirty pair are tackling a terrorist plot, and bad guys are taking dirt naps.
This is an action movie. A fun one. Is it a smart one? Or a classic one? Probably not. It’s an eminently disposable piece of entertainment that doesn’t take a ton of time out for human emotions. But you’re not going to see it for that. You’re going to see it because Rhys Meyers lugs around a huge blue vase full of cocaine for a sizable chunk of the movie and John Travolta has a bazooka. It’s gleeful stupid fun and a great way to spend an evening at the movies.