When Robert Louis Stevenson wrote that life got better after 50, he could have been prophesying about John Travolta. His career has been one of peaks and plunges, punctuated by some of cinema’s most interesting fashion moments (“Saturday Night Fever” and “Battlefield Earth” come to mind). Ever since he hit 50 five years ago, however, Travolta seems ensconced in a mode of cinematic go-to-hell gleefulness.
While he single-handedly boosted the morale of the otherwise sleepily pedestrian “The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3” remake with the unforgettable line, “Lick my bunghole!,” and dabbled in embarrassing music videos with daughter Ella Bleu (“Every Little Step”), for “From Paris With Love” he pulled out all the stops to go for total, undiluted obnoxiousness. Filthy, foul-mouthed racism: check. Stinking, offensive chauvinism: check. Unforgivable wardrobe and shining bald head accented with a classic gold hoop earring: jackpot. Travolta’s jiving, crotch-bumping, bazooka-wielding Charlie Wax makes Bruce Willis’ “Die Hard” protagonist John McClane look like a mild-mannered, salt-of-the-earth type.