"Extraordinarily bad by any measure." - Tom Long
"Desperately unoriginal." - Liam Lacey
"No movie star appears to have more fun in a crap movie than
John Travolta, and his inimitable my-check-has-cleared! glee
is the best thing about this lame espionage thriller." - J R Jones
Just a warning: while I'm going to attempt to narrate the movie, this post might just devolve into me uploading a bunch of pictures of Travolta looking funny.
And looking funny is something that Travolta does very well in this movie.
The first twenty minutes of From Paris With Love tries surprisingly hard to convince you that you're wasting your time.
It's dialogue-lite spy stuff. Imagine The French Connection without any of the tension or intelligence, and that's what we're starting with.
But it's within these first twenty minutes that you get my favorite scene in the movie.
You see, Reese here is a crap CIA agent doing crap jobs; one of them being planting a bug.
And Reese, having seen one too many spy movies, uses chewing gum as an adhesive to plant the bug.
So where does he stick it? Right under the table.
Probably feels pretty smug about it, too.
But the gum doesn't stick and the bug just drops onto the carpet in a room full of people who are only partially occupied with other things.
So Reese tries to make it stick again and again until he finally staples the fucker onto the bottom of the table.
Silly? Yeah, but it still felt more tense than any of the gun ballets that followed. I was almost positive that the little shithead was gonna get caught.
Having pulled off his big job, the CIA feels Reese is ready to sit at the big kids' table and pairs him up with Charlie Wax(John Travolta), which, for reasons I can't fathom, feels like an incredibly appropriate name; almost to the point where I feel that John Travolta's birth name should have been Charlie Wax instead of John Travolta. Perhaps in a parallel dimension, he is.
He's a CIA tool.
And he's a socio-pathic, government-sanctioned serial killer off his meds.
Together, they fight crime!!!!
Now we're getting somewhere.
Or at least that's what I thought once the buddy-buddy formula was in place.
Instead, the movie just goes flat.
Every action scene. All of the dialogue. It just doesn't work.
The only thing that does work (sorta) is Charlie Wax, and that's only because it's fun to watch Travolta murdering people for absolutely no reason at all, and then laughing about it.
And the movie is so god-damned heavy-handed. Especially with the jokes.
Like there's this one extremely long scene where Travolta performs this ceremony where he pulls out a burger and explains that he's eating a royale with cheese.
|I'd rather eat a jar of mayonnaise|
You know? A royale with cheese? Just like what he said in the movie that doesn't suck? Get it???? C'MON, DO YOU GET IT?????
The joke is crammed so far down your throat that it's borderline offensive. Honestly, it could have been funny if they just tried to slide it past you without making such a big deal out of it.
And this heavy-handed bullshit goes double for the plot twists.
My favorite is probably when Wax gets really dramatic and tells Reese that, "We're not after drug dealers..."
"We're after terrorists!"
And this seemingly irrelevant fact becomes so fucking important that it shakes Reese to his very core, as if terrorists shoot special bullets that are ten times worse than what drug dealers load their guns with.
The screen literally distorts as we're treated to a visual interpretation of the sheer terror Reese experiences when his partner explains that the shit just got real.
It's pointless because Reese and Wax just continue on their merry way, murdering virtually everyone they come across; the only difference now is that the Muslim/Asian kill ratio is beginning to shift.
"Terrorist? Drug dealer? Who gives a fuck! Let's kill him!"
So Paris is saved and the duo heads back to Reese's apartment for a big celebration with Caroline, Reese's hot might-be-a-terrorist girlfriend.
And omigodplottwist, she is! Quick, Wax! Blow her friend's brains out without any warning or provocation!
At this point the movie could have ended abruptly but Reese is just way too big of a pussy for that. Instead of stopping Caroline from performing further mischief, he gets shot by the bitch and she escapes.
"She tried to kill me because she loves me!"
And this is where our paper-thin characters just fall apart: when Reese confronts Caroline, who is now wrapped with explosives and ready to kill hundreds of innocent people.
So what does Reese do? Does he shoot her? Of course not! He professes his love to Caroline and tells her that everything is going to be alright and that they can work this out.
I mean, I knew that Reese was a tool, but this is on an entirely different level.
Reese, c'mon. The bitch shot you and now she's ready to kill a bunch of people and you actually think you're in love??? There's no tragedy here. This is just stupid. Instead of coming off as deeply in love, Reese gives the impression of being incredibly shallow, loving a woman literally on her looks alone, because that's really the only operating department Caroline has left.
"Nothing else in the world matters right now, Caroline, except my love for you. And that's all I have: My love for you." - actual line
|Now take off that stupid orange outfit so I can fuck you and feel better about myself.|
Oh thank god, they killed her.
The movie's over.