Review: From Paris With Love #2
PLOT: James Reese (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), an aide to the U.S. Ambassador in France has the life. Hot French girlfriend who makes her own clothes, cooks and doesn't care that her man is off sort of risking his life with his side gig as a peon in the CIA. Reese wants nothing more than to be a high powered spy, but when his chance at glory arrives, it's in the form of a crazy partner named Charlie Wax (John Travolta). He dresses like pro-wrestler, has not problem sniffing coke on the job (or making his new partner carry around a vase full of it) or shooting up anything in his path. And he might just be exactly what Reese needs.
REVIEW:John Travolta back in action? Color me surprised. I'm really really sorry. I actually hate that phrase. I just couldn't get it out of my head the entire time I was watching FROM PARIS WITH LOVE. You know what I'm talking about. You saw the commercials and said, 'Oh look. John Travolta is trying to reinvent himself by shaving his head and saying fuck a few times.' Or, 'He really had no other choice after OLD DOGS, poor dear.' I went into the screening expecting to laugh at a feeble attempt to regain cool points. But after a few minutes that damn phrase popped into my head. Ah, John. I missed this! You deliver one liners like a pro, and you even managed to make me laugh at the whole PULP FICTION, 'royale with cheese' nod. (Which, by the way, would have been far funnier if I hadn't seen it in the trailer!) With some of the choices Travolta has made in recent years, I completely forgot why I loved him. Nice to know you still have it in you, John!
And then there is Rhys Meyers. Like any female history buff, I watch THE TUDORS, yelling at the screen every time an historical inaccuracy pops up. It would make a good drinking game. I'd be completely pixillated in five minutes. Anyway, Rhys Meyers has proved that he can adeptly handle a dramatic scene. He's got yelling, anger, and betrayal totally covered. And he looks pretty damn good without a shirt. He's charming, engaging, and hot as hell. But that accent! When he's emoting, he's fine, but put him in a quiet scene and it's all over the place! I heard Boston, Brooklyn and in one scene, a tiny bit of Southern. Here's the thing, Hollywood. Some people are great at accents. Others aren't. So, if it doesn't really matter to the story where someone came from, just let them use their real voices! And he can't quite handle innocence. Quiet scenes that are meant to show his naivety make him seem like a five-year-old on a sugar high. He almost squirms with the need to yell at someone...to do something. But the man is funny, which I wasn't expecting at all, and once Reese warms up to Wax, he relaxes into the role. It's standard buddy cop fare, but by the end, the chemistry is there and it's a blast to watch.
Where this movie really shines is in the action sequences. Rarely do I find myself whooping when the screening is in a small room. But, oh, did I whoop! The film was produced by Luc Besson and directed by Pierre Morel (who know a thing or two about action), and I swear, you could almost hear them high-fiving each other saying, 'Dude, that was awesome!' in the editing room. (Well, I guess it would be more like, 'Mon ami, c'est mangifique!' or something.) Particularly of note was the scene in the Chinese restaurant where, after shooting up the place and blasting the hell out of the occupants, cocaine pours from the ceiling. And the scene with Wax hanging out the window of a car with a laughably large gun was a riot.
The story was a little weak though. There were moments that had me thinking that Travolta alone was saving the script. Wax seemed to be written as an excuse to make ugly American jokes about the large number of Chinese people in the world and the impossible to resist-'We saved your asses in WWII' line. And the ending was pretty predictable. We've seen the rookie with the unorthodox and brash, yet ultimately effective mentor saving the world from terrorists a zillion times. But between the non-stop action, a Travolta that we've sorely missed, and yes, the amusement of watching Rhys Meyers try not to sound like he's from the one of the outer boroughs, the film was fun. Which is kind of the point. Shoot-em-in-the-head, cocaine in a vase, blow-up-the-bad-guys-and-save-the-day-fun.
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