Throughout the history of Hollywood, there is no one character more romanticized than the super spy. In his latest film, “From Paris with Love,” John Travolta may lack the charm of James Bond and the subtlety of Jason Bourne but teamed with a overwhelmed novice, he absolutely dominates the proceedings in this highly-enjoyable international adventure.
The story starts innocently with a quiet official, James Reese (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) who on the surface has the perfect life. Working in the U.S. embassy in France, engaged to a beautiful woman, Caroline (Kasia Smutniak) Reese stills longs for a little more excitement and gets more than he bargained for when he is paired with the unorthodox American spy, Charlie Wax (Travolta) on the trail of terrorists.
After successfully completing an assignment for his appreciative boss, Reese is given the opportunity of his dream when he accepts an assignment to drive around a hot-headed ugly American operative. But instead of going along on a routine job, Reese is thrust in the middle of several intense gunfghts and conflicting stories requiring his involvement.
Dax is the ultimate renegade, even down to his gun that he nicknames “Mrs. Jones” and his entertaining catchphrase for criminals, “Wax On, Wax Off” to give them something to think about. While under the guise that he is there to assist Dax, soon Reese is trying to save his job, his relationship and his sanity in the middle of an ever-developing storm of dead bodies and a hail of gunfire.
This French “Training Day” finds the cocky, ass-kicking spy, Dax tutoring and manipulating his overwhelmed upstart at every turn as he teaches him to decipher between truth and perception in this entertaining and ballsy adventure. But unlike Denzel Washington’s character that ultimately steps over to the bad side, Dax’s methods may be unpredictable but they serve a mean to a positive and patriotic end.
Executive produced by Luc Besson (“The Professional”), the film even pays homage to Travolta’s character in “Pulp Fiction” as he makes a welcome return to playing someone with some serious swagger reminicient of his work in earlier stories such as the aftermentioned Tarantino classic as well as “Face/Off.” Rhys-Meyers plays against type as a character that is consistently manipulated and moved around like a human chess piece by Dax as the two get closer to the truth.
In the tradition of the new Bond and Bourne, Travolta and Besson have created a character that appears to have as much fun as the audience in this winning story. One thing for sure, King Kong ain’t got s**t on Dax!