In the space of just a few weeks, we have movies starring Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson and John Travolta. It's like the early '90s all over again.
Nostalgia is on Travolta's mind, too. In "From Paris With Love," he plays a violent but chatty CIA agent who, while bullets fly, likes to engage in dialogue that recalls "Pulp Fiction" as if written by action film hacks.
The film is directed by Pierre Morel, who helmed another spy thriller, the surprising 2008 hit "Taken." Both were written (this one by Robert Mark Kamen) from a story idea by the French action filmmaker Luc Besson.
Like that film, which starred Liam Neeson, "Paris" turns drama stars into deadly spies. Alongside Travolta (Charlie Wax), Jonathan Rhys Meyers plays James Reese, an aide to the U.S. ambassador to France (Richard Durden).
Never miss a local story.
But Reese is also a low-level secret agent for the CIA. He aspires to higher levels of intrigue and gets his shot when he's teamed with the veteran Wax. The two embark on a manic rampage of destruction, racking up double-digit bodies within minutes, in a desperate race to prevent terrorists from blowing up ungrateful politicians.
The not-so-subtle suggestion is that those who underestimate the terrorist threat or worry too much about protocol risk big trouble.
The Irish actor Rhys Meyers ("The Tudors," "Match Point") likely has some fans somewhere. But even his defenders would acknowledge he's not quite action movie material.
That needn't be an impediment; the fish-out-of-water is a standby of many a thriller. But in "From Paris With Love," his character, though inexperienced, quickly adapts to the carnage.
Reese, it turns out, is a tough, too. He boasts that he's from a hard New York neighborhood. One foresees South Bronx crowds cackling in the theaters.
Having more fun is Travolta. With a shaved head, a thick goatee, he resembles a biker from Soho.
He throws himself fully into the film, but it never feels like anything more than action movie dress-up.