Review: From Paris With Love

Rating: Barely kudos.

John Travolta is action royalty in “From Paris With Love” while Jonathan Rhys-Meyers feels weak and at times… cheesy? Perhaps the film would be better if they called it, “Royale With Cheese.”

I know I’m stretching with that one, but it is true. Travolta gives a top-notch performance in this film. Appropriately over-the-top and always with a profane remark, Travolta plays his most exciting action character since he switched roles with Nicolas Cage in “Face/Off.”

He plays outrageous secret agent Charlie Wax, womanizer and fast-talker while at the same time possibly legally insane. And the United States government hire him to kill people. His new partner Reece is getting married soon, as long as he can stay alive long enough to finish the mission with Wax.

The mission… in all honesty I sat through all 92 minutes of that film and I’m not really sure what the mission was. Something to do with cocaine, bad-guy Pakistanis, terrorists and a plot to assassinate an American delegate. It all moves very fast, and I think writer Luc Besson (“Leon: The Professional,” “The Transporter”) didn’t really want the audience to have all the details. Travolta’s Wax character hurdles and charges through the film with such crazed determination that he never really stops to give us all the facts. So not only is Reece clueless the whole time, we are too. This may be a good thing, but I’m thinking it was a way to use Travolta to distract us from the poorly thought out plot.

Reece is played by Jonathan Rhys-Meyers who was good in “Bend it Like Beckham” and decent in “Match Point.” In this film, he plays the boring straight man to Travolta’s loose cannon. In a buddy film, we have to like both “buddies” in order for the film to be good. Reece is quite dull with no personality, and Rhys-Meyers’ chemistry with Travolta can’t carry the film the whole way. There is a terribly-delivered monologue by Reece at the end that’s too emotional and trite. I think this due to bad writing, but any capable actor could’ve pulled it off. Rhys-Meyers does not.

The action sequences in the film are mostly well done. There are some that get a little preposterous, but hey, who doesn’t want to see a bald John Travolta storming into a room with two machine guns blazing? If that’s why you want to see the movie, then you shouldn’t be disappointed. If you’re looking for a half-way decent plot, good acting and a solid screenplay, look someplace else.

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