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    2010-02-05 10:25:21
    From Paris With Love is a volatile hybrid, half Hong Kong action flick, half American spy thriller, fused together in the Dr. Moreau-like laboratory of French filmmakers Luc Besson (The Fifth Element) and Pierre Morel (Taken).

    As a result of the violent process, some parts emerge oddly distorted: Bruce Willis becomes John Travolta, Matt Damon becomes Jonathan Rhys Meyers, believability becomes an afterthought, and plotting becomes irrelevant.

    Made up like Ming the Merciless and channeling the hep-cat spirit of Vincent Vega, Travolta stars as CIA Agent Charlie Wax, a brusque, trigger-happy bundle of Yankee hubris summoned to Paris to prevent a potential terrorist plot on a U.N. peace conference.

    Rhys Meyers plays James Reese, an uptight entry-level operative tasked with ferrying Wax around the city to gather the intelligence needed to thwart the conspiracy.

    Predictably, the two agents quickly settle into the standard buddy cop relationship: Button-down rookie Reese is appalled by coke-snorting, hooker-banging Wax’s unorthodox tactics, which usually land them in the middle of one huge, stunningly choreographed shootout or another; Wax, in turn, belittles his young sidekick’s naivety and stubborn adherence to protocol.

    At times Travolta’s action-hero routine borders on embarrassing — like watching your grandmother try to rap — but his exaggerated bravado is not entirely without its charms.

    He’s by far the most enjoyable part of the movie, skipping merrily thro
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