James Reece works as an assistant to the US Ambassador at the embassy in Paris, but has ambitions to work as a spy. After completing some small tasks, like replacing license plates and planting a listening bug, he’s given a new assignment of partnering with bad-ass field agent Charlie Wax (John Travolta).
Reece, played by the wiry handsome Jonathan Rhys-Meyers in a distracting mustache, is dapper, eager, and wants to make a difference in the world. His French girlfriend, Caroline (Kasia Smutniak), proposes to him and gives him a ring which she says is from her father. But he’s suddenly called away on his new assignment of getting agent Wax into the country, as he’s being detained at the airport for trying to bring in cans of energy drink. He’s the typical loud cursing American. Wax is the complete opposite, in size and style, of the debonair Reece but manages to find a diplomatic solution to the problem. Wax takes him to a Chinese restaurant when he suddenly complains about the food and attacks the waiter while asking him for the cocaine. At this point all heck breaks loose with Reece diving to the floor while Wax quickly dispatches the shooting cooks, busboys and waiters who are coming from all directions while cocaine rains from the ceiling. Wax tells the remaining waiter to deliver a message to his boss…”Wax on Wax off”. John Travolta sports a Mr. Clean style bald head complete with earring. He’s tough, obnoxious, and puts Reece in some tight situations making him carry a vase full of cocaine while mentoring him. Reece is Oxford-schooled smart that causes him to try and talk his way out of trouble as opposed to Charlie’s method of “shoot first, think later.”
Writer Luc Besson and director Pierre Morel have worked together on the action-packed Taken and Banlieue 13. It’s no surprise that they keep this story fast and well choreographed. There’s a terrorist plot with a huge body count, as Reece calculates, that averages 1 per hour during their first day together. Reece realizes he’s way over his head calling his handler who tells him not to call back. He is also stressed and distracted by his fiancé who keeps calling him wondering why he rushed out, and then sees him with a hooker later. Wax sees potential in Reece when he demands very assertively, a cell phone charger from someone at the point of a gun. Wax is probably the last person to give Reece advice on his love life, as he considers his weapon, complete with song – “Me and Mrs. Jones have a thing going on.”
As with any John Travolta movie, he dominates the screen. This film is no different, but his character Charlie is supposed to be bigger than life. He’s not your typical spy who can blend into the background. He comes on guns blazing, kicking butt, and taking names. While Rys-Meyers’ Reece is efficient, detailed, and when called upon can get the hard job done. From Paris with Love is fun and doesn’t require one to listen to a lot of complicated exposition. Rhys-Meyers and Travolta make a good team, and it would be nice to see more adventures of the brains and brawn duo. (Review by Reesa Cruz Hawkins of Dallas Movie Screenings)