Pulp Fiction was released in 1994. That film signaled John Travolta’s reemergence into popular culture, with good reason. He could have easily coasted by on the strength of Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary’s brilliant script. Instead, he took what he was given and expanded on it to make Vincent Vega the epitome of cool. Since then, Travolta has been coasting from film to film, taking in giant amounts of money and slowly wasting the good will he had built up in one of the best films of the last 20 years. In From Paris With Love, he tries to get back some of the cool he had 16 years ago. Unfortunately for the audience, we learn that sometimes you can’t go home again.
This mess of a film also stars Jonathan Rhys Meyers as an aide to the US embassy in France and low level CIA operative who dreams big. That is, until he is pulled into the world of underworld drug rings and guns by Travolta’s Charlie Wax, who says things that were hip in cool in the mid 90s, but today couldn’t be more cliché. Some of the dialogue even references Travolta’s earlier triumph, with predictably lame results.
Director Pierre Morel has experience creating exciting action, from District B13 to last year’s Taken. Here, there’s a lot of bombast and car crashes. The action isn’t bad, but action for action’s sake doesn’t make it good either. And the script is in equal parts lame, stupid, and unbelievable. What’s worse, the movie doesn’t know if it wants to be a comedy, an action film, or a drama. If the filmmakers don’t care to figure it out, why should we?
From Paris With Love continues the current trend of action film as video game. Filmmakers can’t seem to balance a story with chases, great dialogue and characters with shootouts. Everyone involved with this film would be smart to look back at a film like Pulp Fiction and learn what made it good, instead of just trying to emulate its cool.