From Paris with Love is only mildly tolerable

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With a Mr. Clean scalp, goatee, earring and huge neck chains, John Travolta is the major enticement in this French-made thriller directed by Pierre Morel (Taken). Oddly, his character — a wild, gun-waving special agent named Charlie Wax — owes as much to Quentin Tarantino as to screenwriters Adi Hasak and Luc Besson. Wax launches into a rant against a French customs agent, calling him a “frog-leg-eatin’, snail-suckin’, motherfuckin’ bureaucrat” and rhapsodizes about the McDonald’s “Royale with cheese.” Why not just call it From Pulp Fiction with Love? The rather thin story line centers on James Reece (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), an aide to the U.S. French ambassador and low-level CIA operative with higher ambitions. James is paired with Wax, who takes him on a wild shooting spree through Paris, which vaguely has something to do with fighting terrorism, and which somehow requires James to carry around an urn full of cocaine and Wax to shoot to death countless people (drug dealers and other miscreants, almost all Chinese, Pakistani and otherwise non-white). The story is absurd and the ample gunplay remarkably cartoonish, but the movie is made mildly tolerable by Travolta’s very funny line delivery and the refreshingly brief, 95-minute running time. **

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