During most of the Luc Besson-produced From Paris with Love, I had no idea what was going on. Oddly enough, being a fan of plot-driven movies, I still found it to be a blast, and I’m not just talking about the explosions. It’s because of John Travolta having more fun than I’ve ever seen him have on screen, making it impossible for me to not enjoy the ride with him.
Jonathan Rhys Meyers is a junior CIA agent living in Paris with a cover job in the U.S. Embassy, doing little more than grunt work and eager to take on more dangerous assignments. He gets his wish when the agency teams him up with loose cannon agent Charlie Wax (Travolta) to take down drug dealers and terrorists. You don’t need to know more than that because it’s irrelevant. Do you remember what the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie was about? No, but you’re probably still chuckling about Johnny Depp’s performance as Captain Jack.
And so it is here with Travolta’s portrayal of the profane, badass, bald, goateed, tattooed, beefed up Wax with even beefier guns. When he first appears on screen, I thought, “Oh no, he just graduated from the Nicolas Cage School of Hambone Overacting.”
But the actor quickly won me over with the sheer joy he exudes in playing this character. Watching him take down bad guys and blow things up is like watching a child get exactly what he wants on Christmas morning. (I couldn’t help but also think that since this movie was shot while his son Jett was still alive, it may be a long time before we see Travolta this gleeful again.) And a movie with so many explosions, car chases and shootouts—done in spectacular “Aw, YEAH!”-inducing style—needs a big character like Wax to anchor it. Anything less would have been blown away with the scenery.
Nerd verdict: Fun adventure in Paris