In the latest shoot 'em up flick from director Pierre Morel (Taken), a bald, goateed John Travolta plays Charlie Wax, a maverick spy with a wicked trigger finger who gladly hunts down terrorists. This time, a US ambassador's uptight lackey (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) tags along for the ride.
Find out what we think of it now... From Paris With Love (15)
Starring: Jonathan Rhys Meyers, John Travolta, Kasia Smutniak
Director: Pierre Morel
Film length: 92 minutes
Trailer: Watch it here
In a nutshell: Former camera operator Pierre Morel has worked in the trenches for French producer Luc Besson on films such as Taxi 2 and The Transporter, before his elevation to the director¹s chair with 2004¹s District 13. Since then he¹s gone on to direct English-language blockbuster Taken made in Paris with an international cast and star Liam Neeson and is repeating the formula with From Paris With Love. Jonathan Rhys Meyers stars as an American ambassador¹s aide who hungers for danger and excitement in the Secret Service. He gets his chance when attending a conference in Paris: looking after maverick spy Charlie Wax (John Travolta). Pretty soon, he¹s up to his neck in drug dealers and terrorists.
What's good about it? If you like Travolta playing a swaggering, 'dangerous' criminal in The Taking Of Pelham 123, well he does something similar here, except he¹s blasting away bad guys instead of hijacking a train.
What¹s wrong with it? It¹s so much less kinetic than Morel¹s previous films. District 13 felt genuinely fresh, mixing parkour and martial arts performed by awesome acrobats David Belle and Cyril Raffaelli. Taken was also intensely physical, as macho Liam Neeson zeroed in on the scumbags who kidnapped his teenage daughter. But From Paris With Love is mostly shootouts and car chases, and Travolta (or his stocky, middle-aged body double?) looks
unconvincing on the one occasion he¹s required to run across rooftops. The plot makes little sense; there¹s a disturbing racial stereotyping in the casting of Asians and North Africans as faceless cannon fodder; and a big
twist is telegraphed way too blatantly.
Verdict: A fair few critics seem to be giving From Paris With Love an easy ride: oh, it¹s just big, dumb fun, what did you expect? Well, a story we could believe in and some elements that are genuinely different from what
we¹ve seen before would be a start.
Rating: 3 out of 10