Paris is Burning

travolta Paris is BurningFrom Paris With Love

Running time 92 minutes
Written by Adi Hasak
Directed by Pierre Morel
Starring  John Travolta, Jonathan Rhys Myers

Rating: Zero Eyeballs Out of Four

We all know how rotten today’s movies can be, but even at the bottom of the slag pit, you won’t find a load of garbage any smellier than From Paris With Love. This is one you have to kick to the mental curb to save your I.Q.

This one was produced by ultimate no-talent sometime writer-director Luc Besson (The Fifth Element), but it must be explained that this time he only provided the idea for the story, which is bad enough, since there is none. But the film was actually directed by Pierre Morel, who only last year poisoned the ozone with the moronic kidnap-revenge movie Taken. All of these people seem dedicated to destroying the city of Paris. Whatever Liam Neeson left behind after Taken is now bombed, trashed, torched, machine-gunned and exploded by the disastrously miscast team of John Travolta and Jonathan Rhys Myers in From Paris With Love. They should have all stayed in bed.

Let’s see now. What is this thing about? To the best of my comprehension (logic and perception do not apply), Mr. Rhys Meyers, on a break from The Tudors, plays James Reese, a personal assistant to the U.S. ambassador to France who is actually some kind of covert operative for the C.I.A., dividing his time between playing chess, playing house with a fiancée with a strange accent and playing secret agent, unscrewing license plates and planting microchips under tables with wads of chewing gum. Enter a crude, crummy, loudmouth American spy named Charlie Wax, played by a fat, greasy John Travolta with a shaved head and a gold hoop earring. He looks like Mr. Clean and talks like Mr. Filthy, in a script by a hack named Adi Hasak that should have been put through a shredding machine and burned. It grieves me to see a once-unique talent like John Travolta sink so low.

Within one hour of his arrival in Paris, this freak is teamed up with the bumbling, resistant Reese as they invade a Chinese restaurant, blow up the chop suey, gun down the entire wait staff and escape toting a Chinese vase filled with cocaine for their own personal use. O.K., so they’re out to expose and wipe out an Asian drug ring that killed the daughter of the U.S. secretary of defense. (You can’t make this stuff up.) But it turns out the U.S. secretary of defense doesn’t even have a daughter. Crashing through the streets, killing at least 20 more people without a single cop in sight, snorting coke, playing video games and hanging from car windows while mowing down the French populace with automatic weapons, they completely discard the Chinese underworld plot and switch gears again.

O.K., so it’s about international security on the Champs Elysee. Eureka! They’re after terrorists! We know this because the only terrorist in sight is in a parked car talking on a cell phone. Stealing every cliché in the book, including the title of the James Bond movie From Russia With Love, this demented farrago of pointless massacres is glued together with dumb jokes so old they’re hairy. After dropping explosives from the top of a building that kills all of the people inside, Mr. Travolta grins moronically and says, “And then there were none.” What, no gendarmes? They finally show up and Mr. Travolta blows them up, too, then steals their police car. It all leads to the U.S. delegation for the African Aid Summit, whatever that is, where Mr. Rhys Meyers’ fiancée turns out to be a suicide bomber who … But why go on? From Paris With Love is dead already. It doesn’t make one word of sense. Maybe it’s not supposed to, but that’s getting to be a poor excuse for bad movies marketed for 10-year-olds and grown-ups with brain damage. This one is a good example of two formidable talents wallowing in C-level trash. It’s a flying mess, and they seem to be making it up as they go along. Final word: I never knew it could be so easy to sleep through a movie this noisy and stupid. Now I know.

rreed@observer.com