By Owen Gleiberman
Updated February 06, 2010 at 05:00 AM EST
Rico Torres

From Paris With Love is a ”fun trash” movie that’s more trash than fun. Its key attraction is seeing John Travolta cackle and badass his way through the role of Charlie Wax, a rogue American spy with a shaved head, a matching goatee and beetle brows, a passion for saying ”motherf—er,” and a tendency to blow away suspects first and not bother to ask questions later. Travolta lets it rip, the way he did in Face/Off (1997); he might almost be playing a psychotic gypsy hitman. The actor, who keeps slipping into dated, look-how-cool-I-am urban street dialect, looks happier here as a freak enforcer than he did as a freak villain in The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3. All in all, he seems to be having a far jollier time than the audience.

The movie has been fashioned in a crudely hurtling style that barely pretends to make sense. On the trail of a terrorist, Wax and his partner, an American ambassador’s assistant (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), tote around a vase of cocaine (why? Because it seems like a nutty-hip thing to do), and the director, Pierre Morel (Taken), tosses scenes together as though he were making a bouillabaisse. The movie has a preposterously multiplying body count, yet Morel is a brutally unclever action filmmaker: When Travolta shoulders a bazooka and leans out the window of a speeding car, we can tell each time the film cuts to a stuntman shot. From Paris With Love is so nonchalant about violence, and everything else, it’s downright slovenly. C

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