For what could have been a pretty forgettable ‘spy/action’ movie, From Paris With Love is saved by one thing – John Travolta’s performance. I have always maintained that he is at his best playing the bad guy. For some reason, I think he excels at this. From Pulp Fiction to Face/Off – he chews the scenery better than anyone else – while at the same time being believably over-the-top. He’s even good in the remake of Taking of Pelham 1-2-3, which was a pretty lame movie.
And he does it again here with his character ‘Charlie Wax’, who isn’t really a bad guy – but he’s a foul-mouthed, sharp-tongued, charming, coke-snorting, killing machine special ops good guy – who just happens to have a first-time handler – Jonathan Rhys-Meyer. The plot was fairly predictable, but it was Travolta’s presence and relentless Wax that kept you engaged for a pretty quick ride. What I loved was that we were rooting for him the whole time, and could feel good about it because he was one of the ‘good guys’.
Like I said, everything else was fairly derivative – even the climax… actually, especially the climax. And the ‘delegation’ seemed like a throw-away, particularly for an AIDS summit. But it didn’t matter, because no one will remember what this movie was about anyway. They’ll just remember Travolta’s performance.