The only way it gets better if it’s called “John Travolta makes up for Old Dogs”
Every actor, deep in his heart, wants to be an action star. It’s why so many take on action roles, even those with serious, bonafide careers in drama or comedy. Action films tend to be amongst the highest grossing films of the year and one hit can often make an actor into an A-list star overnight, ala Bruce Willis in Die Hard. So it’s interesting to see John Travolta jump into the fold with From Paris With Love, the latest actioneer from the auteur behind last year’s surprise hit Taken.
James (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is a low level CIA operative (his cover being the assistant to a big wig at the U.S Embassy) given his shot to the big time: partner up with top operative Charlie Wax (Travolta) on matters of national security. But perhaps it’s more than he bargained for as Wax’s rather unorthodox style, coupled with the mission itself, takes him to places where he never thought it would. Done as a dramatic piece, this could be an interesting (if perfunctory) piece on a man introduced to the highest levels of national security faster then he’d ever anticipated. But Pierre Moral does something better: he makes it fun.
Taking a cue from John Woo and Lethal Weapon, Moral makes his a buddy action flick with Meyers as the straight man and Travolta as the crazy partner. Letting Travolta just chew scenery like it’s going out of style, the film has a fun tone to its madness. Taking itself seriously, but with a wink and a nudge to the audience about the sheer ridiculousness of it all, the film moves fast and doesn’t stop to take a breath to let you catch up. The only time the film really has a break is to callback to Pulp Fiction for Travolta, but it’s not the sort of soulless callback like in Be Cool. It’s not clever, but it’s cute and fits with the film’s motif of not taking itself too seriously.
Travolta seems to be having the time of his life, throwing out profanities as often as he does bullets. Doing most of his own stunts, as well, he’s easily in the best shape of his career since his heyday in the 1970s. Aping his appearance from the remake of The Taking of Pelham 123 with a svelte physique, Travolta is an odd fit for the hero considering his background as one of the better all around action villains of the past two decades.
Moral has certainly figured out a method to his madness. Having Luc Besson, a master of the genre, producing with story credits certainly doesn’t hurt. Much like Taken, this has his fingerprints all over it. The film has a singular storyline, with nothing fancy, as it takes the bare bones of an action film and doesn’t add much to it besides fun and a couple of inventive action sequences. From Paris With Love doesn’t approach Lethal Weapon levels, but it is a fun little romp through Paris.
Director: Pierre Moral Notable Cast: John Travolta, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Kasia Smutniak Writer(s): Adi Hasak (screenplay) and Luc Besson (story)