Rubilliant. It means ‘something simultaneously rubbish and brilliant’. Don’t bother checking the dictionary; we just made it up. We needed a new word to describe the oeuvre of Luc Besson and DoP-cum-director Pierre Morel.
If you’ve seen Taken (or The Transporter or War or…), you’ll know exactly what we mean. The French duo’s bullet-crazed actioners dispense with any layers of complexity that could slow things down. In fact, they’re kind of like the filmic equivalent of ’90s Swedish popsters Roxette, whose proud motto was: “Don’t bore us, get to the chorus”.
Of course, Besson and Morel know what they’re doing: Taken, the low-budget, Jack Bauer-esque actioner, raked in around $224m at the box office. From Paris With Love doesn’t veer far from that film’s template.
This time, the fish-out-of-water US agent sent to France is Charlie Wax (John Travolta), a triggerhappy one-man army who says things like “Wax on, Wax off” after he’s fed lead to another half-dozen goons. Travolta (and his stunt double) is too old and portly for the role, but just about gets by on charisma and comic timing.
If Taken was 24, Paris is more like 48 (Hrs) – James Reece (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) completing the odd couple as Wax’s reluctant partner. A desk-jockey aide to the US ambassador, Reece craves drama until he comes up against Wax’s “maverick ways”. Racing to stop a terror attack, the duo dash from set-up to set-up, Wax killing everyone, Meyers tutting.
Slowly they find a mutual respect and get a handle on who the real ‘big bad’ is (apparently, everyone killed so far were just middle men). You can see the ‘twist’ coming from around the fifth minute but it barely matters. The action is slick, the pace lickety-split, the visuals stylish. The whole thing’s rubilliant.
Travolta and Meyers do all that’s required of them in another Besson B-movie blow-out. No brain required, but to be fair, twice as entertaining as many films with double the budget.