Back Story: French action auteur Luc Besson has been making his own Franglicized versions of Hollywood action thriller for decades. Sometimes it works (La Femme Nikita, Taken); sometimes it doesn’t (Kiss of the Dragon, Bandidas.)
Reel Story: John Travolta hams it up as a badass American agent who shoots up the City of Lights like Bruce Willis on steroids while Jonathan Rhys Meyers tags along in the thankless role of a chess playing bureaucrat who desperately wants to be a Black Ops dude even though he clearly doesn’t have the stomach or the nerve for the gig.
How It Plays: Travolta shaved his head and dons a beard and mustache for the role (I’m guessing he didn’t have to put on any extra pounds) so, yeah, he looks different but any comparison between this movie and a certain Quentin Tarentino flick (the Blu-Ray dust cover sports a quote from someone named Shelli Sonstein: “The coolest Travolta since Pulp Fiction”) is wishful thinking. (In one scene Travolta’s character scarfs down a Royale with cheese, a not-so-subtle reference to the Tarentino classic.)
Playing the Action Movie Card: Like heavy metal music, action movies have their own set of rules. What’s happening onscreen doesn’t always follow normal laws of plot logic (or laws of gravity, for that matter) and the director, Pierre Morel (Monsieur Besson is credited with coming up with the idea for the screenplay, gee, that must have taken all of five minutes) – lives to blow things up. I get that. Still, even within those generous guidelines this movie is a colossal timewaster. And not in a good way.
Bottom Line: From Paris with l’amour? Try From Paris with le merde!