by Brendan Wahl
Jonathan Rhys Meyers as…James Reece
John Travolta as…Charlie Wax
Kasia Smutniak as…Caroline
Just like “The Wolfman”, this was a film that I did not expect to be the cure for world hunger or poverty, but I thought it had the potential to be entertaining enough and I enjoy John Travolta for the most part (there are exceptions. I’m looking at you, Battlefield Earth).
The plot of the film seems pretty simple to begin with. Low-level CIA operative James Reece (Meyers) is sent on his first major assignment because of the lack of agents (I guess the CIA has those problems, huh?). The only downside to that is that he is paired with an insane American agent, Charlie Wax (Travolta), who compliments Reece at being an absolute opposite to how the young lead operates within this world.
I should also mention that before watching this movie, I heard a lot of reviews talking about how big, stupid, and dumb a lot of this movie was and that it was all brawn and no brain. Well…
What’s wrong with that?!
I guess the first thing to discuss would be the balls-to-the-wall level of the action in this flick. I mean, it barely let up for a second. After taking about 10-15 minutes to really get going, the film sucked me in for its entire 95-minute run-time. The action set pieces range from exhilarating and fun to quite simply: ludicrous. But you know what? It’s all in good fun. A good example of the ridiculous nature of some of the action in the film is to note how Wax disposes of several thugs as they escape a building. He figures out in his head how long the thugs will take to travel down each floor of the building, times their escape into the getaway car and then uses that time to set a bomb and drops it at the perfect time to dispatch of said villains.
That’s another thing. Charlie Wax is somewhat of a revelation for John Travolta. Just look at that bald bad-ass with a wicked beard and tell me he doesn’t look like one of the cooler anti-heroes Travolta has ever played (in fact, I can’t really think of any terrific anti-heroes he HAS played — no, Pulp Fiction doesn’t count, he was a villain!).
Charlie Wax is a brash, rude, crude, possibly racist, violent sumbitch. Upon first meeting Wax, he is yelling at a French customs officer for taking his energy drinks from him at the airport. After Reece saves the day, we learn that it wasn’t just about the cans and Wax wasn’t being a whiny bitch. I am a firm believer in the fact that this man would’ve capped the customs officer if Reece hadn’t been there to cool things down and let better heads prevail.
Not to say that James Reece isn’t one cool-ass character as well helped in great deal by Meyers’ fun performance. But seriously…
I think the choice is obvious.
So aside from the acting and the ridiculous set pieces, the story is about as good as you can expect from a film like this with a decent twist that I actually didn’t see coming (rare for this kind of film!) and an ending that didn’t suck either. What was especially great was that Wax never changed to fit the story. He remains a bad-ass for the whole thing and doesn’t hold back when it comes to the F-bombs or shooting Asian gangsters.
For a popcorn-crunching, soda-slurping great time at the movies, this is definitely worth peepin’ and I give it a:
PS: It should be noted that Polish actress Kasia Smutniak is absolutely gorgeous. Her acting? It was aight.