There is absolutely no reason in the world why you won’t fall head over heels in love with the ludicrous nature of “From Paris With Love.” It’s loud, obnoxious, ridiculous, offensive, sexist, and it wears all that as a badge of honor. Hell, it wears all that as a bandoleer strung across the chest of a man who’ll beat you to death before grabbing a burger and fries. I laughed start to finish at what can only be described as sheer lunacy.
The film kicks off with a clerk at the U.S. embassy in Paris (Jonathan Rhys-Myers doing a genuinely horrible American accent) performing routine surveillance duties for his boss and for some unknown superior on the phone. He lives happily with his drop-dead gorgeous girlfriend in a nifty little apartment, and all is well. Yet he yearns for a more action-packed lifestyle. As though living in Paris with a brunette as hot as his girlfriend isn’t enough.
Such are the silly travails of action stars.
His world is flipped upside down when he’s called in the middle of the night and told to pick up his new partner, Charlie Waxler, at the airport. Wax, as he’s called, has been detained by customs which presents a problem for the Powers That Be. We then meet Wax, played with full-throttle gusto by John Travolta. Channeling his over-the-top terrorist from Face/Off, Travolta hurls expletives almost as fast as he shoots bad guys. But who are the villains, you ask? I honestly couldn’t tell you.
It’s been a while since I’ve seen a film that asks you to accept on blind faith that everyone the lead actor shoots/blows up/otherwise annihilates is a de facto enemy of the state. Initially, he’s in Paris for an acceptable reason, but that reason quickly begins to change in roughly five minute intervals. By the mid-point, I couldn’t care less what the villains did to deserve Wax’s wrath. I gave myself over to the gleeful energy of the bloodbath because of the wanton abandon. There are only two sides in “From Paris With Love,” Wax’s side and everyone else.
The film rests on the rapport between Rhys-Myers and Travolta and to their credit they both shine. Travolta has performed this role for over a decade so he’s got it down to a science. He takes crazy to a whole different level here, though, and what kept me laughing is how fast Wax adapts to every environment. I laughed the hardest at his response to the man who offers him tea, but equally funny is Rhys-Meyers spending 30 minutes holding a vase filled with cocaine. The two leads have completely unique energies as performers and they genuinely connect here.
This film also manages a neat trick though with the twist you know is coming right from the start. Every film like this has one, but the way they introduce it is a shocker. It would have been nice to have a stronger conclusion, but I’ll run with the coda the film makers gave us. It doesn’t wrap everything up in a tidy bow, but that’s sort of the point. Just kick back and hang on for a wild, hilarious, blood-soaked and highly profane ride.
“From Paris With Love” is 90 minutes of gleeful stupidity and I highly recommend it.