Film Reviews

FROM PARIS WITH LOVE

By • Feb 9th, 2010 •

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Tony Manero, Vincent Vega, Charlie Wax. Travolta has his franchise now! Gleeful killer Wax makes Bond and Bourne look like clumsy amateurs. Roaring fun.

Charlie Wax (John Travolta) kills people for a living. He does it with style and charm. A CIA “rogue” agent (are there any other kind?) without any psychological and societal boundaries, he appeals to us because he (a) is fulfilling a mission (b) never questions himself and (c) rules do not apply to him.

Think about how many rules we must obey on a daily basis. James Bond has that nagging hag “M”. Jason Bourne is always falling fatally in love.

James Reece (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is a well-bred American personal aide to France’s U.S. Ambassador Bennington (Richard Durden). He has a beautiful French girlfriend, Caroline (Kasia Smutniak), and a prestigious job answering the phone for the ambassador. But he wants to be in the elite club of daring spies.

Reece is finally given an important mission to drive around CIA agent, Charlie Wax. From the minute Wax lands in Paris, he starts killing people. Wax brags, “one an hour” – though I counted more.

I was totally confused by Meyers unnecessary, distracting appearance: What’s up with that Cantinflas mustache, eyeglasses, and big, fake, piano teeth? Meyers has the thankless task of playing the frail, confused sidekick to over-the-top Travolta. He does look trim, but lacks any hint of his Henry Vlll sex-swagger.

Swagger. Travolta goes balls-out. The only thing missing is a nude sex scene.

I’m calling for it in the sequel.

Travolta is having immense fun and it shows. It seems someone has figured out a formula for these older male stars: Revenge killers.

Director Pierre Morel, working from a story by Luc Besson (who produced the film), achieves a blood-soaked roller coaster ride showing off Paris. The stunts, special effects, and action are all first-rate. In fact, many of the action sequences are quite impressive. Movie killings are now brutal, blood splattered operatic feats. Nobody dies quietly.

Screenwriter Adi Hasak gives Travolta a lot of snappy dialogue to partner his bravado performance. Travolta has the uncanny ability to demonstratively connect with all of his co-stars. He clearly enjoys Meyers’ Reece. I guess Travolta can’t help it: He’s so damn likable.

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