There's a funny thing about the commercials for From Paris With Love. They really want to sell us the movie with John Travolta.
That seems weird to me, because I don't remember the last Travolta movie anyone buzzed about in a good way. It's been awhile.
On the other hand, I hear the buzz about the recent spate of movies that Luc Besson has written and produced everywhere, including among groups of people who aren't the usual movie geek, know-it-alls such as myself. Not just the relative hits like Taken and The Transporter, but also the smaller ones like Danny the Dog (aka Unleashed) and B13.
And considering that the action in From Paris With Love lives up to the standard set by those movies, it would only make sense to focus on that. I see that some of the posters do note "From the director of Taken", but I never notice it in the TV ads, if it is mentioned.
That said, this is the most I've enjoyed a Travolta performance since Pulp Fiction, or at least Face/Off. Besson and director Pierre Morel know exactly what they want for him, and while he's clearly in full on over-the-top mode, it's exactly what the character needs.
I'm not sure if Travolta is interested or capable of the kinds of nuanced performances he offered in Saturday Night Fever and Urban Cowboy anymore. Heck, I'm not sure if he could pull off another The Boy in the Plastic Bubble. But then maybe he's just not looking for the parts or getting strong enough direction anymore.
So, this is the only workable solution to using Travolta, and if more people could use him this purposefully and enjoyably, I'd still be excited every time his name showed up on a poster.
Honestly, my problem here was with Jonathan Rhys Meyers, who I really do usually enjoy, so perhaps its his character that isn't very well written. He wants to be a special ops agent, but is shocked that working special ops with a partner could involve - Gasp! - killing a guy! I just didn't buy any of that for a minute.
But it didn't matter, with a rocket paced plot, Travolta's charisma and manic energy and some incredibly well-executed action sequences, that's just scenery in the background of a really fun action movie.