Wednesday, February 17, 2010

From Paris With Love

I find that the more batshit crazy John Travolta gets in a movie, the easier it is to forgive his poor acting skills. While I am quite happy he never went the 'action star' route with his career (because he doesn't have the 'chops'), I liked his performance as psycho agent Charlie Wax in "From Paris With Love". You forget several times that it IS Travolta. Like Tom Cruise, he can never really disguise who he is so to watch him completely inhabit a character was a nice change of pace.

The story is a familiar one. Two 'cops' one crazy and one calm are brought together to bring down a drug operation (I think). You didn't need to set the movie in Paris but it's a nice travelogue and distraction from the usual L.A. or New York setting.

What makes this one different is the excellent stunt work, fight scenes and Travolta. Shaved head and goatee brings the crazy out in him. His Charlie Wax moves through the movie like a bull on meth. I lost count of the body count after the first twenty minutes. My kind of movie.

Not only is Charlie a brutal killer but he is smart and no-nonsense. Once he sets his mind on something, everyone just better get out of his way. The complete opposite of the 'mouse' he is partnered with. For some reason the pairing works.

Johnathan Rhys Meyers plays his partner. He wants to be the kind of action agent he idolizes but is too much of a thinker for that career change. You know that on his first mission that he would over think some situation and get himself killed. He has no idea how out of his element he truly is when he first teams up with Charlie and therefore is easily manipulated by other - mainly superiors. This is the guy that should only leave the office to get sandwiches for everyone else.

I do have one criticism at it's a familiar one from me. I would love to see the '6 on 1' fights in one take. This quick cut bullshit annoys the hell out of me. Lazy film making at it's worse. This is an 'action film' - let me SEE the action. Make me go home ready to tell all my friends how cool this movie is or better yet, make me excited to blog about it after I have seen it. While the action quotient is high, it is nothing you haven't seen a hundred times before. Though I have to admit the film does have style and many funny moments that come from the interactions between this mismatched duo.

For example, after killing 10 or so Chinese bodyguards on a staircase Meyers asks Travolta how many more he thinks there are? Wax answers, "About a billion."

Also, I keep waiting for there to be a legitimate script reason for Meyers to lug around a vase full of cocaine for the entire movie. I am sure it is coming but good lord, leave the frickin' vase in the car and go back for it later. Way to compromise the 'evidence'.

I like the way Meyers and the audience never quite knows what Wax is REALLY up to in Paris. That sense of confusion causes some nice personality changes in Meyers as he learns to adapt to all the craziness around him. The film definately has a 'Training Day' feel to it as Wax instructs his meek partner on the finer points of being an 'operative' throughout their mission.

I enjoyed it.

1 comment:

Thanatomaton said...

Great movie! I was a little reticent about it after having watched that overhyped abortion "Swordfish" (yeah, I thought it was dumb; "Hackers" was stupid, "Swordfish" was just ridonkulous). This, to my surprise, wasn't bad.