Review: From Paris with Love a Satisfying Escape

If you like a violent, silly, frenetic style of film you'll find plenty to enjoy here. There are a few glaring flaws, which we'll get to, but overall this is satisfying escapism. You could do much worse -- heck, I'm betting you have. Travolta is always at his best when he's playing oddball characters, and From Paris with Love is no exception.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers is the assistant to the United States Ambassador to France, but he's handling the occasional clandestine job for the Central Intelligence Agency. Enter John Travolta as Charlie Wax, an operative with a unique way of handling his business. The two are thrown together by circumstance, and of course it's an Odd Couple scenario. Travolta's Wax is all about flouting the rules, doing it his way, letting it all hang out. Rhys Meyers is by the book, a thinking man, reluctant to start too much trouble. The film plays out against the backdrop of Paris, with a heavily attended global conference scheduled a few days out to provide tension.

To the film's eternal credit, it doesn't bother too much with setup or logic, we're simply inserted into a situation where Wax gets to kill a bunch of people. And kill he does, with handguns, automatic weapons, his hands, rocket launchers ... well, you get the idea. He kills with verve, panache, and glee. The plot moves along briskly, never pausing long to consider pesky topics of morality or justice.

The weakest part of From Paris with Love is Rhys Meyers. Though he's a talented actor, and I've loved his prior work, his American accent isn't up to snuff here. He's supposed to be from New York, but his voice indicates he's from nowhere, especially not the United States. The other issue is that his character, James Reece, is a drag upon most of the movie's early scenes. It's written that way, so Rhys Meyers had nothing to work with, but you end up wanting much more Travolta action. The other issues include basic logic and a few one-note characters. No dealbreakers, though, because again, you're seeing Travolta causing mayhem every five minutes or so.

Still, I can't knock From Paris with Love in any meaningful fashion. For a February film it's eminently watchable. I would never ask you to check your brain at the door, as I figure you need your brain, but I would ask you to enjoy the escapist fun presented here. There's something to be said for not thinking too hard every once in awhile.

Grade: B-