No Love for Hacks

Scraping the bottom of the barrel in From Paris with Love

We all know how rotten today’s movies can be, but even at the bottom of the slag pit you won’t find a load of garbage any smellier than From Paris with Love.

Produced by no-talent sometime writer-director Luc Besson (The Fifth Element), it must be explained that he only provided the idea for the story, which is bad enough, since there is none. The film was actually directed by Pierre Morel, who last year made the moronic kidnap-revenge movie Taken. Whatever Liam Neeson left behind after destroying Paris in Taken is now bombed, trashed, torched, machine-gunned and exploded by the disastrously miscast team of John Travolta and Jonathan Rhys Meyers in From Paris with Love. They should have all stayed in bed.

Let’s see now. What is this thing about? To the best of my comprehension, Rhys Meyers, plays James Reece, assistant to the U.S. ambassador to France who is actually a covert operative for the CIA, dividing his time between playing chess, playing house with a fiancée with a strange accent, and playing secret agent. Enter a crude, crummy, loudmouth American spy named Charlie Wax, played by a fat, greasy Travolta with a shaved head and a gold hoop earring. He looks like Mr. Clean and talks like Mr. Filthy in a script by a hack named Adi Hasak that should have been shredded and burned. It grieves me to see a once-unique talent like Travolta sink so low.

Within one hour of his arrival in Paris, this freak is teamed up with the bumbling, resistant Reece as they invade a Chinese restaurant, blow up the chop suey, gun down the wait staff and escape toting a Chinese vase filled with cocaine for their personal use. OK, so they’re out to expose an Asian drug ring that killed the daughter of the U.S. Secretary of Defense. But it turns out he doesn’t even have a daughter. Crashing through the streets killing at least 20 more people without a single cop in sight, snorting coke, playing video games and hanging from car windows while mowing down the French populace with automatic weapons, they completely discard the Chinese underworld plot and switch gears again.

OK, so it’s about international security on the Champs Élysées. Eureka! They’re after terrorists! Stealing every cliché in the book, including the title of the James Bond movie From Russia with Love, this demented farrago of pointless massacres is glued together with dumb jokes so old they’re hairy. After dropping explosives from the top of a building that kills all of the people inside, Travolta grins moronically and says, “And then there were none.” What, no gendarmes? They finally show up and Travolta blows them up too. It all leads to the U.S. delegation for the African Aid Summit, where Rhys Meyers’ fiancée turns out to be a suicide bomber who…but why go on? The film is dead already. It doesn’t make one word of sense. Maybe it’s not supposed to, but that’s getting to be a poor excuse for bad movies marketed for 10-year-olds and grownups with brain damage. This one is a good example of two formidable talents wallowing in C-level trash. It’s a flying mess, and they seem to be making it up as they go along. Final word: I never knew it could be so easy to sleep through a movie this noisy and stupid. Now I know.

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