In the new John Travolta (“Old Dogs”) film “From Paris with Love,” the veteran actor sports a stunning bald head and goatee combination that brings to mind a level of badass-ness that Travolta hasn’t had since his “Pulp Fiction” days.
The film opens with James Reese (John Rhys Meyers, of TV’s “The Tudors”), an American aid to the US ambassador in Paris who does side work for the CIA in his downtime. Although Reese lives a comfortable life with his French girlfriend Caroline (relative newcomer Kasia Smutniak), he longs to be promoted to more exciting espionage jobs. Reese’s wish is ultimately granted when he is asked to escort Charlie Wax (Travolta), an experienced and successful operative. The result is an escalating body count and a trigger-happy rampage that involves terrorist drug mules and Parisian police officers.
The highlight of the film is seeing Travolta as the crazy yet magnetic Charlie Wax, who wields everything from handheld revolvers to bazookas. Yes, Travolta’s appearance as the white version of Sinbad might throw off viewers at first glance, but it becomes evident that the appearance is most definitely part of who Charlie Wax is. Though Travolta probably won’t be up for next year’s Academy Awards, his quips and grasp of the character make the hour-and-a-half film enjoyable enough.
Rhys Meyers, who has shown versatility through roles ranging from King Henry VIII to Elvis Presley, does a good job keeping up with Travolta acting as the sane half of the duo. And even though he isn’t sporting his usual charming British accent, Rhys Meyers does quite well with the American accent, unlike other up-and-coming actors (Orlando Bloom in “Elizabethtown” anyone?).
With the release of “From Paris with Love,” Pierre Morel (“Taken”) establishes himself as a leading director of action movies. His quick and precise shots enhance the vivid feats that many audiences like to see from their favorite action movies. Though this film doesn’t have the emotional appeal of “Taken,” it still leaves audiences satisfied with every bullet aimed for the bad guys.
And fortunately for audiences, Morel knows how long most people can stomach the same sequence of murderous rampages by keeping the film less than two hours. Morel’s fast- paced cinematography holds the audience at the edge of their seats, while the kooky but harmonious relationship between the odd couple of Charlie Wax and James Reese leave viewers satisfied.
Though the dialogue at times can be a little cheesy — after shooting up a car, Travolta exclaims, “Welcome to Paris, baby!” — “From Paris with Love” isn’t about the script as much as it is about the intense action and plot twists (watch for a good one near the end). Though the storyline can jump quickly from killing to killing, Morel manages to make the action sequences flow congruently with one another and the plot. With that said, “From Paris with Love” is what you would expect from any kind of action film, and it delivers with exciting action that coincides with the backdrop of Paris.
From the explosive scenes to the quick paced shots, this film is for those who want action and to see things (as well as people) get blown up. If you find yourself at the movie theater craving something other than a sappy love story this Valentine’s Day, this unconventional film might just be for you. Plus, it even has the word “love” in it.
4 out of 5 stars.