[22 September 2009]
From Paris With Love
Director: Pierre Morel
Cast: John Travolta, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Melissa Mars
Opening: 5 February 2010
Jonathan Rhys Meyers is a greenhorn at the U.S. Ambassador’s office, and John Travolta is a (possibly crooked) secret agent. The movie algebra on this one is pretty transparent: take the inverse of Training Day, subtract any modicum of authenticity, and add as many explosions as possible. The bouncing brass and rakish shuffle of the soundtrack, the Bond-aping title, and the references to The Transporter strongly suggest that this film is all shot, no powder.
Travolta plays what might be termed a “bad ass” for the umpteenth time, and watching him in the role is, as usual, perverse and uncomfortable. He gives the impression of an unsettled man, not in a villainous, sinister way, but in a slimy, insecure way. Like in the wretched remake of The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, he will swear copiously as his wormy muscles striate all over his body, and it will all seem very forced. The typical John Travolta rogue has bought into tropes of coolness and masculinity to such a degree that he exists only as a wrongheaded approximation of a man, a socially mutated human being, seething with misplaced hatred. He is such an unconvincing brute that I suspect if he does many more of these roles, scholars in later generations are going to think he’s a great satirist.