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John Travolta, From Paris with Love

Eric Caro/Lionsgate

Review in a Hurry: If you were to take From Paris with Love seriously, it'd be easy to be offended by its portrayal of women, minorities, Muslims, Asians, and anyone who isn't a big, loud American a-hole with a gun (i.e. John Travolta). Fortunately, it's nigh-impossible to take the movie seriously, so just enjoy the destruction.

The Bigger Picture: Jonathan Rhys Meyers plays Reece, assistant to the American ambassador in Paris. He wants more out of life, like some kind of big-deal assignment. This he gets, and then some, when he's assigned to partner up with Travolta's Charlie Wax, who's sort of like Sherlock Holmes crossed with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Wax is loud and reckless, but every ludicrous risk he takes invariably pays off. In his attempt to keep up, Reece ends up destroying every aspect of his former life.

Much like director Pierre Morel's previous action hit Taken, there's a curious reactionary sensibility at work here. In this story, women are all scheming back-stabbers, Arabs and Muslims are all terrorists, Asians deal drugs, lower-income minorities are all criminals, the French are totally ineffective. And diplomacy is stupid when you can solve all problems via the use of a large, acid-tipped handgun named "Mrs. Jones."

It's easy to say such things are relatively harmless in a lark like this, but then this reviewer just happens to be a loud-mouthed American a-hole, the one group about which director Morel has nothing bad to say. The film is bound to be a hit over here, but you just know the French audiences have to be cringing at the fear of what the movie might encourage.

"Relax," an audience member might say, "just turn your brain off and enjoy it." Such a hypothetical person makes a very good point.

The 180—a Second Opinion: Regardless of everything else, the spaghetti-sauce-as-blood fakeout and the date-night line "Why don't we skip dinner altogether and go straight to dessert" should, in and of themselves, earn writers Luc Besson and Adi Hasak a night in screenwriting jail.

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