Monday, February 8, 2010

No love for this flick

"From Paris With Love"
1.5 Stars

By Thomas Tracy

John Travolta’s career has reached a new low.

How low?Well, if “From Paris With Love” is any indication, he’s the understudy for B-movie star Jason Statham.

The “Transporter” star, a staple in most Luc Besson-produced pictures, would have fit perfectly in the light on brains, heavy on brawn action film.

Instead, you have Travolta (“The Taking of Pelham 123”) who, sporting a shiny bald pate, earring and scarf, looks more like a Parisian fashion designer with a gun than a U.S. agent on a mission to do who knows what -- heavy on the what.

“From Paris” has something to do with a terrorist cell, the U.S. Embassy in Paris, and cocaine raining down on a Chinese restaurant after Travolta’s Charlie Wax shoots the same amount of holes into the ceiling as this film’s inane plot.

But the story doesn’t resolve around Wax.

Rather, the main character is James Reece (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), an attaché to the U.S. ambassador with dreams of becoming a black ops CIA operative.

After running a few errands for an unidentified handler, Reese is given the promotion/punishment of escorting the brazen, foul-mouthed Wax around Paris on a covert mission that is anything but covert.

That’s because where ever they go, these black ops “assassins” (it’s never quite clear what they’re supposed to be) leave a trail of blood, bodies, bullets and blown up cars as wide as the Champs-Élysées.

So much for covert ops.

In fact, their night of carnage is so extensive that they determine halfway into the film that they’ve killed at least one person every hour. There’s nothing better than a movie that keeps its own body count!

While the beauty of the City of Lights is hinted at, director Pierre Morell shows us anything but (save for a part when our trigger happy heroes snort cocaine on the Eifel Tower). Instead, he shows us the dark, uninteresting alleys and slums of Paris, which could be found anywhere in the world.

Also losing his European flavor is Meyers (“The Tudors”), who often sounds ridiculous as a nasally, nerdy, Oxford-educated pencil pusher who claims to be from the streets of East New York (we didn’t believe it for a second).

In this buffoonery of a buddy-film, he’s a poor match for Travolta, who spends most of his time reminding everyone about some of the better movies he’s been in. It may have been difficult to swallow, but you finally get to see Travolta eat his “Royale with Cheese.”

"From Paris With Love." Starring John Travolta and Jonathan Rhys Meyers. Directed by Pierre Morell. Running time: 92 minutes. Rated R for strong bloody violence throughout, drug content, pervasive language and brief sexuality.

Playing in Brooklyn at Access Digital Theatres - Pavilion Cinema in Park Slope, downtown at UA Court Street Stadium 12, UA Sheepshead Bay 14, Bay Ridge Alpine Cinemas, and Linden Boulevard Multiplex Cinemas in East New York.


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