AWFJ Women On Film – “From Paris With Love” – Susan Granger reviews

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You know things have gone from bad to worse when John Travolta starts riffing himself, evoking the far better bang-bang days when he was working with Quentin Tarantino and John Woo.

James Reece/Richard Stevens (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is a double agent in Paris, toiling as an adroit, multi-lingual, chess-playing attaché to the American Ambassador (Richard Durden) and as a low-level undercover CIA errand-boy who swaps license plates on cars in dark parking garages. Plus, he’s got a gorgeous French/Muslim fiancée, Caroline (Kasia Smutniak). Problem is: when he gets a really challenging assignment, he’s teamed with a foul-mouthed operative, Special Agent Charlie Wax (Travolta), a free-wheeling former mercenary, whose trigger-happy, bad-boy antics could well blow their cover as they’re trying to take down Chinese coke dealers and capture a suicide bomber tied up with a Pakistani terrorist ring. Uzi-toting, leather-clad Wax is introduced as he tries to sneak a precious suitcase full of energy drinks (whose contents hold firearms) through customs – before strapping on automatic weapons, loading a rocket launcher and embarking on exploding SUVs around the City of Light, exclaiming, “Welcome to Paris, baby!” And that’s when he’s not gobbling Cheese Royales and tearing-up when he hears “(They Long to Be) Close to You” on the car radio.

Directed as a kinetic, buddy/action adventure by Pierre Morel, who guided Liam Neeson through the far more intelligent kidnapping drama “Taken” a year ago, it’s a nonsensical shambles, pieced together by screenwriter Adi Hasak from a story by Luc Besson. The quirky humor is supposed to derive from the odd-couple mis-matching of the gun-slinging partners, and the stylish camerawork features a CGI-enhanced shoot-out at the Eiffel Tower.

While British Jonathan Rhys-Meyers does a creditable American accent and is convincingly bland and oafish, toting a cocaine-filled vase, John Travolta goes over the top – and then some – with bald head, goatee and dangling earring. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “From Paris With Love” is a bullet-riddled, forgettable 4, filled with bloody violence and an astonishingly high corpse count.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.