"From Paris With Love": Over-the-top fun and lots of blood
Paris is undoubtedly of the most romantic cities in the world, and the new action-thriller "From Paris With Love" even has the "l" word in it, though it has little, if anything at all, do to with love, unless you love over-the-top gratuitous violence. It's a mindless shoot-em-up with an excessive amount of blood, bullets and car chases all of which packs in some enjoyable moments, not to mention a charismatic lead, a bald Travolta who packs some serious heat and kicks some serious tail.
A personal aide to U.S. Ambassador in France, James Reece (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) has an enviable life in Paris and a beautiful French girlfriend, but his real passion is his side job as a low-level operative for the CIA. All Reece wants is to become a bona fide agent and see some real action. So when he's offered his first serious senior-level assignment, he can't believe his good luck until he meets his new partner, special agent Charlie Wax (John Travolta).
A trigger-happy, wisecracking, loose cannon who's been sent to Paris to stop a terrorist attack, Wax leads Reece on a very fast-paced spree through the Parisian underworld for 48 hours that has Reece wishing for his old desk job. But Reece discovers he’s far closer to the terrorists than he ever imagined, and he has to rely on his new friend to ensure the terrorists are brought down in whatever way possible.
From acclaimed producer Luc Besson ("The Fifth Element") and "Taken" director Pierre Morel, "From Paris With Love" is a non-stop and very bloody action thriller that takes you on a fast-paced, exciting ride for this time of year. Besson's pat, simplistic, unrevealing script and Morel’s uneventful direction its chief flaw, but you can forgive that just a little when the ride is so entertaining.
Travolta, in one of his more fun, hammier performances, struts around hairless and shouts more obscenities than necessary, but he's clearly in command of the screen in "From Paris With Love," and he's always the one to watch. He's well-paired with the handsomely bland Jonathan Rhys Myers of TV’s "The Tudors" and the two have decent chemistry together when Travolta isn't chewing on the scenery. Myers’ role is clearly secondary to Travolta and his attitude is far more serious than Travolta, who seems to have much more fun, doing majority of the shooting and fighting (and in one explosively impressive scene, Travolta literally brings down an entire gang by himself and with no bullets fired).
There are a few well-paced and well-executed action set pieces, from a big car chase/explosion near the end to a shoot out in an apartment complex, until it literally speeds to a twisty but predictable conclusion that you’ll see coming if you play close enough attention. With that in mind, "From Paris With Love's" big twist is really not such a big twist, and quite silly for such an intelligent character as Reece.
Predictability aside, not to mention the fact that Travolta absolutely loves the "f" word with "mother" attached to it, "From Paris With Love" is modestly enjoyable, brutishly violent entertainment and reminds moviegoers that, much like Denzel Washington has already reminded us earlier with the equally violent "The Book of Eli," that older guys like them can still kick some butt when it comes down to it.