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Film review: Dopey 'Paris' doesn't thrill

John Travolta, left, Melissa Mars and Jonathan Rhys Meyers in "From Paris."
John Travolta, left, Melissa Mars and Jonathan Rhys Meyers in "From Paris."
Rico Torres

FROM PARIS WITH LOVE — ★1/2 — John Travolta, Jonathan Rhys Meyers; rated R (violence, profanity, gore, drugs, vulgarity, torture, brief sex, slurs, nude art); in general release

It appears that the makers of "From Paris With Love" were hoping to land Bruce Willis as their star but had to settle for John Travolta instead.

After all, Travolta is sporting Willis' trademark shaved head, facial hair and earring look in the movie and seems to be playing the same wisecracking, foul-mouthed, gun-toting lawman character Willis has played multiple times throughout his career.

Willis can still play that role convincingly. The doughy Travolta, on the other hand, isn't even remotely believable when he tries to duplicate Willis' usual shtick.

As for this dopey terrorism thriller, it only has a handful of decent action scenes in it. There are some audiences who may get some guilty laughs from Travolta's hammy performance, though.

He stars as the unlikely named Charlie Wax, a CIA agent who's just landed in Paris and who is on the trail of drug smugglers.

At least that's what he tells his new partner, a low-level operative named James Reese (Jonathan Rhys Meyers). This straight-laced desk jockey is horrified by some of the more questionable actions taken by the shoot-first, ask-questions-later Charlie.

However, James soon discovers what Charlie's true mission is: He's out to stop a terrorist group that's operating in France.

Again, Travolta looks and acts absolutely ridiculous, though Irish actor Rhys Meyers' fake American accent is almost as ludicrous.

"From Paris With Love" is rated R and features strong scenes of violent action (gunplay and shootings, hand-to-hand combat, fisticuffs and beatings, knifeplay and stabbings, explosive and vehicular mayhem, and violence against women), strong sexual language (profanity, crude slang terms and other frank talk), gory and bloody imagery, drug content and references (cocaine), scenes depicting torture and interrogation, a pair of brief sex scenes (mostly overheard), derogatory language and slurs (some based on nationality and ethnic origins), and glimpses of nude artwork (statues and mannequins). Running time: 95 minutes.

e-mail: jeff@desnews.com