Who's In It: John Travolta, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Kasia Smutniak
The Basics: The brown people of France must be stopped before they suicide-bomb everything in sight, maybe even the Eiffel Tower. Is that what you want? IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT?! No, of course it's not. And you know that France, in spite of their recent attempts to ban traditional Muslim women's wear, is too limp-wristed and croissant-obsessed to really take care of themselves. So they have to order in weirdly head-shaved and dyed-black-goatee-having John Travolta as a secret agent named Charlie Wax, a man for whom the rules just don't apply, and they let him rampage through the streets, blow up innocent bystanders, sport a big dangly hoop of a man's earring, say stuff like "Wax on, Wax off," snort coke, bang hookers, talk about the Shaw Brothers as if he knows who they are and just, you know, TAKE CARE OF BUSINESS. Except it's John Travolta, so you don't buy any of it.
What's The Deal: It's a nonstop freakout (and, admittedly, depending on your mood, mean-spirited fun) to hear JT attempt convincing dude-speak like "mother[effer]" and "par-TAY!" and "Yeah BOYEEEEE!" and "playah" and "jive-ass." That he's incapable of delivering any of these lines makes you wonder what happened between Saturday Night Fever and now. Once upon a time, human behavior came naturally to him on screen. He wasn't a freaked-out, mannered, humanoid-like set of self-satisfied tics and gestures. But now every move he makes is as forced and labored and dismal as this movie is dull. And without a real swagger from its star, none of the face-kicking or head-butting or explosions or bang-bang stuff packs the brutish, testosterone punch you really want. Suddenly I'm nostalgic for Battlefield Earth.
Not To Be Confused With That Other Movie By The Same Director About Americans Going To Weak-Willed France And Murdering The Bad Middle-Eastern-ish People: That film was called Taken, the hilariously violent one where Liam Neeson turns killing machine for the sake of his daughter's virginity. The only bad-movie payoff moments in this film involve Jonathan Rhys-Meyers's big speech to the main terrorist at the movie's end, another bit where he's forced by JT to use cocaine--complete with woozy drug-cam--and an actual insert shot of a satellite in space to remind you how communication technology works in this modern era. When it comes on cable you can skip to those parts. They're funnier when they don't cost you $10 a ticket.
The Point Of No Return: Guess who talks about a "Royale With Cheese?" Come on, one guess. And then you can guess how many times. And then you can play the Sophie's Choice game and pick this or Old Dogs as the movie you want on a continuous loop in Hell.