Funny story! Judge David Johnson's high school aptitude test actually listed "transporter" as the second most viable career for him. Number one was "beet farmer."
The best in the business is back in the game.
Jason Statham (The Italian Job) reprises his role as the suit-clad weapon of mass destruction, Frank Martin, the "transporter" who most recently tore it up in France, freeing a bunch of Chinese slaves. This time around he's going up against a gaggle of new bad guys and one limber blonde with the worst eye make-up in the history of femme fatales.
Facts of the Case
Frank Martin usually does a job where his clients can be anyone, from a legitimate businessman to the scum of the earth. He is a no-questions-asked courier who will transport all types of cargo, and, if necessary, call upon his considerable skills in mortal combat to defend his payload.
Now, Martin's task is lot simpler: to run a small child back and forth from school. The catch is this kid is the son of a powerful government official (Matthew Modine) who is on the verge of making a major dent into international drug operations. Which makes his loved ones instant targets.
Just before Martin punches out, he agrees to run one more errand, chauffeuring the boy to a dentist appointment. But what awaits Martin is an appointment with violence, lest we think Statham has gone all "Pacifier" on us. Bullets, fists, and feet fly, and Martin finds himself embroiled in the middle of a kidnapping, masterminded by a well-primped villain (Alessandro Gassman) and his sleazy, trigger-happy significant other (Kate Nauta).
Now Martin must try to recover the boy and save the day—though the truth behind the scheme is even more sinister than anyone has anticipated.
I enjoyed the first Transporter. While the story was clunky and uninspired, the action scenes were entertaining and Statham's fighting sequences were great. Who can forget the oil slick brawl or the sweet truck combat at the end (I'm a sucker for cinematic hijinks involving big-ass trucks). With the sequel, I wanted more of what made me so enjoy the first. Well, we don't always get what we want.
Transporter 2 is possibly the most ridiculous action movie I have ever seen. Luc Besson, the omnipresent writer/producer who has churned out a heap of action films, has hooked this flick up to a straight IV of PCP and, with director Louis Leterrier, who helmed the first film, crafted an eye-popping exercise in kinetics and rank implausibility. Seriously, this film is so over-the-top, it makes xXx look like a PBS documentary on 17th century cabinet-making.
What's disappointing is that both Besson and Leterrier were responsible for Unleashed, the great little Jet Li flick released earlier in 2005. For everything that movie wasn't, Transporter 2 is, times, say, about a trillion kabillion. That's bad by the way. Unleashed at least tried to be grounded in reality. Transporter 2 takes place in an alternate universe where a man can walk away from a plane crash in the ocean with a cut on his forehead and chase a school bus with a jet ski. Unleashed had an emotional core, anchored by solid performances by Li and Morgan Freeman. Transporter 2 has Keith David in, like, two scenes and Matthew Modine struggling to reclaim the glory days of Cutthroat Island. Unleashed has sporadic, but bone-crunching action sequences. Transporter 2 has Jason Statham flipping his Audi upside down underneath a crane to strip a bomb from the undercarriage of his car.
Fine, it's not fair to compare these two films: they seek to accomplish different goals. I get Transporter 2 is put together mainly as a piece of eye candy. But, folks, believe me when I say this: this film is such a relentless, non-stop display of suspension-of-disbelief obliterators, that even I—the man who considers Passenger 57 high art—was overwhelmed. Frankly (pun intended), there's just too much unbelievable crap going on.
With Transporter 2, Besson and Leterrier have kissed reality bye-bye, and they've gone for the stratosphere in full-on retinal assault. This movie is relentless, pausing only momentarily between overwrought action scenes to deliver morsels of a rushed and semi-coherent plot. Right, there's a virus and some plan to kill some people and WHAM! BAM! KABLAM! THE TRANSPORTER JUST JUMPED OVER TWO CARS!!! This is ADHD filmmaking at its most insane.
Deposited in between these headaches are some nifty fisticuffs, which is easily the high point of the film's mayhem. Statham continues to be a great physical presence and his moves are even more exciting. Corey Yuen choreographs some excellent fights, including a nice close quarters one-on-one with a huge guy in the belly of a yacht and the best fire hose sequence ever (yes there is more than one). Statham has my nod for any action hero he wants. On the bad guy-side, newcomer Kate Nauta wears very little clothing and looks good two-fisting submachine guns but fails to compel as an interesting villain. Gassman fairs worse, coming off as just another forgettable fist-fodder. His hair is pretty great though.
I loathe CGI use in action movies—well, at least piss-poor CGI. Unfortunately, Transporter 2 is loaded with it, and boy does it suck. There's some awful blue screen work with Statham flying out of a ten-story window to catch some antidote (before harmlessly landing on a taxi cab of course), his Audi is obviously computer-generated on many of the more reality-defying stunts, and the final plane sequence is laughable.
Please, kids, a little physics never hurt anyone. Well, except for the inhabitants of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The movie looks fine, presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. Transporter 2 is a very bright, very warm-looking film; a far cry from the dank grittiness of Unleashed, the film's look screams "eat popcorn and turn off your brain." The 5.1 Dolby Digital mix is aggressive and the bass pounds. The score, while intrusive sometimes, is much better than the hip-hop claptrap from the previous film (about the only thing this film has on its predecessor).
Unfortunately, I was unable to view all the extras on my screener, as only the deleted and extended scenes were available. Retail discs should have two making-of featurettes, focusing on the movie and the music and a blooper reel. As for the deleted scenes: meh.
I was buckled up and ready to get a kick out of the further adventures of Frank Martin. Instead I was blitzed by 87 minutes of what I've come to hate about most modern action films: too much CGI, too much abuse of common sense, too much pointless plotting. Heck, the only thing missing from Transporter 2 was more cow bell.
The accused is demoted to postal carrier for the 68046 zip code.
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Scales of Justice
• "Making of Transporter 2"
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