Luc Besson has a business model. The writer-director of such compelling action films as La Femme Nikita, The Professional and The Fifth Element has now founded EuroCorp films with a simple plan: make American-style action pictures with American-style stars but set them in France. It worked with Taken, an almost-too-efficient thriller with solid values and compelling action that slew them onscreen and at the box office as well.
With From Paris With Love – not quite as much, though it’s still some good, stupid fun. I mean, lookit: A DVD, a scotch, a body count beyond imagining… If Omar Khayam had only known, he’d have written a different poem. Plus the bad guys are Islamists and it’s all over in about 90 minutes. What’s not to like?
John Travolta plays the CIA hit man hero who takes a wannabe spy under his wing while tracking down a terrorist cell. Travolta must be able to do this sort of over-the-top role in his sleep at this point, but he’s still lots of fun to watch. And Jonathan Rhys Meyers of The Tudors fame tags along, doing his best to sound like an American and pretend to be taking the thing seriously.
The second half, in which there’s at least a hint of emotional content, is better than the first. Otherwise, there’s not much to say. If you like watching Islamists get blown away by the dozen – and let’s face it, who doesn’t? – this is an amusingly mindless hour and a half.