From Paris with Love

Nah, this French-flavored actioner romps through its steps as if its success depends on outrunning logic. For the most part, it succeeds.

It’s hard to know what a fussy Frenchman would think, the City of Light transformed from film’s most romantic locale, suddenly vulgarized by an American action film mentality. Sprouting wild-ass shoot-outs like vineyard grapes, unleashing a damn exciting highway chase with weaving cars and a bazooka, ‘From Paris With Lov’e is the movie equivalent of EuroDisney – Americanizing Paris, both spectacular and distracting, with zero attention span and ….. hey look, a balloon!

Jonathan Rhys-Myers is a civilian security officer at the American embassy in France. On the night of his wedding proposal, he’s dispatched to assist a visiting agent on a mysterious and dangerous mission. Enter John Travolta as Charles Wax, a maniacal assassin dispatched to chase a terrorist syndicate.

Travolta anchors the film down deep with his sudden hulkiness, bald pate, and the weight of his screen ego. His forehead seems to be gaining mass and could go supernova any second. You wonder if he should be the first movie star tested for steroids. Roid rage would explain his foul mouthed, shoot-first ass-kicking through the seedy side of Paris. Perhaps torn apart by the gravitational pull of Travolta’s forehead, the film completely loses sense of reality. And don’t you just love it for it?

‘From Paris With Love’ is the product of Pierre Morel (joined by producer Luc Besson), responsible for the respected ‘District B13’ and last year’s big hit ‘Taken.’ It is carnivorous cinema, digesting recent action films and sharply regurgitating them. We might be regurgitating, too, if the film didn’t know how to intelligently and amusingly smother the whole thing in tasty action gravy. You can’t put Travolta in Paris without handing him a Royale with Cheese. At least the film has the good graces to decorate it with a hint of cleverness.

If ‘From Paris with Love’ changes your life, it will only be by awakening your long latent epilepsy. Yet its pleasures are undeniable– superbly staged and edited, pasted together by a wink and nod, washed down with a hint of genre satire.