From Paris With Love

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Who wants to watch John Travolta playing the role of a misogynist?
CAST John Travolta, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Kasia Smutniak | DIRECTOR Pierre Morel

In his middle age now, how much does John Travolta weigh? France has the metric system, so it’s probably a lot more than a Quarter Pounder with Cheese.

Much of From Paris with Love is about him bumping off Chinese and Pakistani drug dealers. After he’s killed about two dozen, he says, optimistically, that given their population there’s still a billion to go. Then he gets bored and goes after Islamic terrorists.

It is interesting to see how the racial profile of the villain in Hollywood war and espionage films gets updated. Pakistanis are clear favourites now, and, in this movie, are hanging around Paris selling cocaine and setting up suicide bombers.

It is never explained why Special Agent Wax (Travolta) has such a revolting name and why he would have a non-entity such as Reese (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) as his sidekick, but it is amazing that he swaggers around the city swatting people, snorting cocaine (on his way up the Eiffel Tower) and using a rocket launcher to knock out a terrorist, with nary a Frenchman in sight. The only Parisian Wax encounters is at his arrival at the airport, when he lectures a customs official about how the Americans saved France’s ass in two world wars and got no gratitude.

It is possible, of course, that presented with Wax’s boorish ways in gastronomy and le amour—he eats only  ‘Royal with Cheese’  and shoots women he flirts with—the French did their usual and went on strike. At any rate, From Paris with Love is only a mildly exciting action film with the Travolta persona as its centrepiece. 

But in this male bonding movie—with women as users, spies and generally bad news—director Pierre Morel has missed a trick.

It is only in the presence of women that Travolta is a charmer. Misogyny ill suits him.