From Travolta With Lust

Terrible title.  I apologize.  But it came into my head and made me laugh, so I went with it.  That’s how we do over here at The Stonay Film Critic. 

I was really looking forward to this one.  In fact, the poster for this movie had a lot to do with my starting this blog in the first place.  I was getting off at the Nassau G stop to walk a dog and there it was: a poster of Travolta sporting a giant earring, goattee, and what appeared to be a bald cap.  I sent out a mass text as soon as I got above ground.  The next day at the Greenpoint station the From Paris With Love poster was directly across from a hilarious Extraordinary Measures* poster with Ford and Fraser walking side-by-side.  It made coming home from work that much sweeter. 

*Never could bring myself to see that one.

It also made me think about the type of movies that usually advertise in subways, and who goes to see them.  I realized that since I haven’t had television for the past 6 months, the only movies I know about are the ones advertised in the subway.  What it would be like if I went to see one of these movies every week?  It’s an exercise that appealed to me for a variety of reasons.  The point is, Travolta’s ridiculous mug on that poster spawned this blog.  Naturally I was pretty excited to see the movie.  I figured it would be chock full of laughs at Travolta’s expense.  I was wrong.

It’s not that Travolta’s character wasn’t ridiculous enough.  He was.  His name was Charlie Wax, for crying out loud.  Within his first 10 minutes onscreen he says, “Wax on, wax off.”  He blows coke.  He curses.  He eats Big Macs and calls them Royales With Cheese*.  He kills dozens of people.  And I know I already mentioned it, but I think it bears repeating: he’s bald, he has a goattee, and he wears a giant earring in his left ear.  All this, and not a laugh to be found.  Why?

*I’m sure some people thought this was cool, but I thought it was incredibly cheesy.  Maybe I’m just too cynical.

It starts with Jonathan Rhys Meyers.  The first 15 or 20 minutes of the movie are his and his alone, and they are excruciating.  He’s an aide at the US embassy in Paris, he’s trying to become a special ops agent, and he loves his girlfriend.  He smiles at her….a lot.  It doesn’t look natural.  You see the same smile used later in the movie during interaction with Travolta.  It gave me the willies both times.

Rhys Meters gets a call from his prospective secret-agent-man boss telling him he’s in like Flynn if he can complete this one special mission, and he needs to pick up his partner at the airport.  I’m sure you can take it from here.  Travolta is the partner, and he is UN.  CON.  VENTIONAL!!!!!  But boy does he ever get the job done. 

The next hour is spent romping around Paris while Travolta kills people who we have to assume are enemies of some kind.  It actually never becomes clear who the real villain is.  There are asian drug dealers, vague references to Pakistanis, and a few glimpses of a suspicious-looking muslim in a car.  You eventually figure out a bomb is being smuggled into the embassy, but you never figure out exactly why.  Some official-looking woman in a limo seems to be the target, but I was never clear on who she was.  Some kind of visiting official, or some such.  I guess it’s not important.

I’m obligated to mention here that Travolta actually wasn’t that bad.  Yes, his character was absurd, but that was exactly how he was supposed to play him.  What makes Travolta hilarious isn’t that he can’t act, its that he picks the most ridiculous roles.  Look at the movies he’s been in since his renaissance in Pulp Fiction: Hairspray, Michael, Battlefield Earth, Phenomenon, Swordfish, Basic, The Punisher, Wild Hogs, Face-Off, Old Dogs, The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, the list goes on.  Think of the characters he played in those movies.  Now think of the mind that would choose to play those characters.  Travolta is obviously a lunatic.

Having said that, I can no longer say he’s a bad actor.  What I realized while watching him portray Charlie Wax is that while Travolta may select terrible parts, he goes at them with reckless abandon.  Sure his movies are never good, but I somehow end up seeing every single one of them.  There’s something to be said for that.  The man isn’t boring, give him that.

Unfortunately, this movie is boring.  Very.  It’s the most boring 85 minutes I’ve spent since the second time I saw Constantine.  The first time was awesome.

Next Week: The Wolfman.  Maybe our first good subway movie?

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11 Comments

Filed under Bad Movies

11 responses to “From Travolta With Lust

  1. We saw it yesterday and laffed our asses off. But if you had to watch it alone, I can see how it might not be as funny. I agree with basically everything you said about Travolta. Rhys Meyers is a truly terrible actor. That was one of the worst acting performances I’ve seen in years. At no point was he remotely believable. I guess what I’m saying is:

    I came for Travolta. I stayed for Rhys Meyers.

  2. bighatt

    When I got that “wax on, wax off” text from you I immediately regreted telling you guys not to see the movie. Of course being by myself hurt the laff-factor. How could I not have seen that? Its not like I’m poppin’ in Surviving The Game when I’m by myself.

    It wasn’t just that, though. The first 15 minutes really set a terrible tone for me. Did you know Rhys-Meyers was this bad before seeing the movie? I had no idea. I thought I liked what little I’d seen of The Tudors. Regardless, between his acting and the total neglect of even basic plot necessities, I was too frustrated to just sit back and enjoy Travolta. A damn shame, that.

  3. I’m curious about Rhys Meyers. Wasn’t he decent in something else? Maybe I’m thinking of that hunk from The Last King of Scotland. I feel like someone whom I respect said he was good in The Tudors. In any case, this performance was enough to possibly end his career. That American accent was almost as bad as Sam Worthington’s in Avatar.

    However, can we place a bit of blame on the script? He had to start every sentence with, “BUT WAX…!!!” or “C’Mon WAX…!!!???” and the dialogue he has with every character is totally outrageous and would not exist in any relationship anywhere in the world (that might be a stretch but seriously…his relationship with his girlfriend, his boss, Travolta). The buddy/buddy conversation at the end of the film was out of the world. Rhys Meyer gives him the Royale with Cheese and they’re just hangin and joshin and then Rhys Meyer has to tell him he’s “going down” in chess. I mean, who could pull that off*?

    Top 5 funniest things in “From Travolta With Lust”:
    1. Travolta’s facial/body expressions when he enters the room wherein RM and that gal are facing off at the end of the film. That was awesome.
    2. The voice of that guy who was giving RM all the instructions. Was that voice supposed to be grave? important? threatening?
    3. The newspaper with the headline (papraphrasing) “American Embassy Summit on Aids Relief in Africa Being Held TODAY” being placed neatly by the toilet paper in some closet next to designs for that girl’s robe.
    4. The first gun fight. That’s when the laughs started rolling in. Every ethnic terrorist/drug dealer was given these instructions:
    Close eyes
    Carry gun with one hand as if you’ve never shot it before
    Run at Travolta with eyes closed and gun in one hand…get blown
    away and make sure you’re wearing something really stupid like a
    chef’s outfit.
    5. The scene where Travolta flies down the firepole head first while shooting people and grappling the pole with his legs.

    After watching this and Taken with Liam Neeson I’m starting to wonder if the xenophobia problem in France is starting to seep into their cinema.

    I actually hope they make a sequel.

    *Lambert

  4. The Centaur

    when i saw the sign for the movie above the theatre entrance i shook my head and laughed. i remember thinking that was the last laugh i’d get get till i the end of the film. boy was i wrong. that movie kicked ass. i was either laughing or smiling for at least 70 of the 92 minutes. of course, i was super high.

    that was a great top five. i’ll do another one:

    5. this scene early on in the film. totally unnatural, totally cheap:
    durden – hey did you find out which one of those secretaries he was banging? the blonde or the brunette?
    meyers – i’m afraid both, sir.
    durden – i love the french

    4. anytime we got to hear the boss voice at the other end of the line

    3. the movie was so absurd, that scene where he’s running down the middle of a room shooting machine guns with both hands didn’t even stand out. by the time it came around, that kind of thing was just standard fare. didn’t stop me from laughing though.

    2. THE MANNEQUIN! what is this a seinfeld episode? and why why why was that terrorist trying to run his car into the line of limos? what was his objective there? take out one limo and make sure none of those delegates reach the summit? his partner was AT THE SUMMIT WITH A BOMB. come on guys, this attack has been planned for years!

    1. were we supposed to care about his love interest toward the end of that movie? in what was portrayed as a heartfelt gesture, wax gives meyers the photos of him and his former fiance. what the fuck? SHE WAS PLAYING HIM THE WHOLE TIME! SHE WAS A TERRORIST IN LOVE WITH SOMEONE ELSE! SHE TRIED TO KILL HIM! TWICE!!

    and speaking of twice, i’m ready for another viewing.

  5. bighatt

    Kicked ass? Second viewing? I feel like my head is going to explode. I’m jealous of the viewing experience you guys had, to say the least.

    Great top 5 lists. I have to confess that I didn’t even remember a lot of that stuff. I must’ve tuned out pretty early. This movie was definitely awful, but I probably should’ve been able to glean some laughs, solo or not. Essentially, I went to see the movie because of how stupid it looked, and then complained about how stupid it was. What did I expect?

  6. dhudnall

    Likewise the part where Travolta backs up the getaway car and dominoes the other cars into it to blow it up (because rhys meyers had documents or something in there? who gives a shit) was outrageously stupid but barely registered in the context of how terrible the movie was.

    Nobody has mentioned the vase yet. He carried that thing around in like five consecutive scenes for no discernible reason. Not to mention the scene where he got the vase, when the cocaine came raining down from the ceiling. That was when I realized we were in for an awesome time.

    Also the part where Rhys Meyers is on the phone with the boss voice and he says how Travolta’s methods are…and then trails off. Then the boss says, “He’s unorthodox.”

  7. (dancing around like i’m about to pee my pants): i really want to see it

  8. The Centaur

    ok last night we actually came up with a top 5 vase scene list. we had a name for this list that was funny but it escapes me. probably “the vase list” or something. anyway, i scratched it down so i could post it later.

    first, i included a note that tells me to set up the vase list with the scene that introduces the vase. crumbs already mentioned it, but that scene where wax shoots into the ceiling and coke pours out is mind blowing. cocaine spills out of about 100 holes simultaneously and steadily for the remainder of the scene. possibly a full minute or more. like crumbs said, the movie hit a new gear and stayed red hot for the duration. anyway, on to the list:

    5. they were on top of the eiffel tower with a vase full of cocaine. no questions asked.

    4. the bodies falling down the stairs on their way up to meet the asian drug dealer. wax on, wax off. as in, whether wax is on screen or not, he’s kicking ass.

    3. that vase in the car scene. this might have been when david leaned over to ask, “why do they still have the vase.” actually, it was likely well before this scene. meyers blows some coke, and has a classic hollywood high (people in charge of making movies think that the effects of any type of drug use include hallucinations).

    2. the kids who work for the coke dealer robbed them of all of their possessions, but allowed them to hold onto the vase with lbs of blow in it.

    1. the shattering of the vase. the solution to their problems (surrounded by lots of kids pointing their guns at them) was to drop the vase. the whole staff of gun-wielding cocaine dealers took off (?) at the site of all those drugs (?) because it was so much cocaine (?). weird, wild stuff.

  9. bighatt

    This guy I work with mentioned the other day that he’d seen From Paris With Love. I asked him how he like it and he said, “It wasn’t the worst movie I saw this year.” I asked him what movie held that honor.

    It was Legion.

  10. bighatt

    No, he doesn’t know about it. Although I guess maybe he should. If he saw Legion and From Paris With Love we obviously have similar taste in (bad)movies.

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