From Paris with Love is straight-ahead, go for the jugular entertainment.
It’s an action-thriller that hits high on action and comedy and low on surprises and thrills.
John Travolta is Charlie Wax is a super spy. He’s one of those shoot-first, ask-questions-later spies.
Wax is sent to Paris to ferret out a terrorists and to solve a terrorist plot. His ways are a bit unorthodox. Wax starts his investigation, and the movie’s body count by attacking Chinese cocaine dealers.
In a very clever scene, he has Jonathan Rhys Meyers’ (August Rush) James Reece take flowers out of a vase and fill it with the drug as it streams from a restaurant ceiling. In one of the film’s many terrific comedy bits, Reece carries the thing around for a big chunk of the movie.
I’m ahead of myself.
Reece is part of the U.S. diplomatic corps stationed in Paris. He doubles as a spy and longs for something deeper than running errands. Reece gets his wish when assigned to assist Wax in finding the terrorist plot.
The terrorist plot isn’t much of a plot. It also isn’t all that original. Nothing in From Paris with Love even pretends to be new. It’s all about letting Travolta be Travolta and tossing off one comic punch line after another and giving Rhys Meyers a chance to shine as Travolta’s straight man.
Both are excellent.
Director Pierre Morel (Taken) packs Paris with plenty of action. While I wasn’t that taken with Taken, it did move quickly forward. Morel doesn’t dawdle here either.
Bullets fly. Bad guys die. I tried to do a body count but lost count at 20. And that’s by the end of the second reel when Travolta’s Charlie Wax is just getting warmed up.
There are no surprises in From Paris with Love. None. Zero. Formula has never been more formulaic.
Ironically, it works. Travolta is why. Few actors can do over-the-top and make it seem as natural as cheese. Travolta is one of them. Villain or a good guy, no one makes amped-up more fun.
And if nothing else, From Paris with Love is short, to the point and fun.
Mr. Movie rating: 4 1/2 stars
Rated R for violence, language and mature themes. It opens Friday, Feb. 5 at the Carmike 12 and at the Fairchild Cinemas 12.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.