I was wandering past the weekly shelf at the video store the other day, and I saw a copy of Transporter 2 sitting there, winking at me. Well, probably not winking, but at least giving me the powerful “watch me you moron” stare. So, caving in to the pressure, I grabbed the DVD and checked it out. Admittedly, I recall having a vaguely fond memory of the original Transporter movie, with Jason Statham starring in that film on the cusp of a Hollywood career.
Plus, I had enjoyed all the Statham films that had been released in recent times, including Crank and Chaos (reviewed elsewhere on this site), so I figured I was in with a pretty good chance of enjoying this film on a purely primal, testosterone-laced basis. So, sitting down with a small pile of DVDs, Transporter 2 happened to be the top of the pile, and so, it was with a joyous heart, that I stuck it in the Toshiba and cranked up the projector.
Before I review the film itself, let’s just allow ourselves a little moment of clarification. For some reason, Statham’s career hasn’t blossomed into the A-Grade star I thought he would become. Films like Snatch and The Italian Job seemed to point to him straddling the broad action-star label once held by Stallone and Schwarzenegger, and pummelling it into the earth. His sarcastic delivery and obvious screen chemistry had him primed to become the next major screen legend. For some reason, however, either by choice or sheer bad luck, Statham’s career has steadily remained at the B-movie action level, and while perhaps not exposing his full talent to all audiences, it’s actually worked a little in his favour. By remaining out of the majority of A-grade action films, he’s built up a legacy of quirky, highly entertaining little B-movies to keep himself occupied, all of which feature his “acting” ability at it’s very best. Statham’s no great emotional actor, yet his steely glare and dry wit ensure he has a legion of loyal fans, and his films definitely revolve around what limitations he has as an actor.
Statham has an ability to be remarkably humorous and cast-iron tough all at the same time, and Transporter 2 exposes this side of him a lot more than recent films he’s been in. While not being a particularly intelligent action film by any stretch, it’s simply a good old time with guns, explosions, cars and jetski’s; it’s a Leave Your Brain Outside film, and perfect if you’re in the mood for a good time without having to think too hard.
Statham reprises his role of Frank from the first Transporter movie, this time based in the steamy Miami streets, driving a young boy to and from school for his high ranking diplomat father, Matthew Modine. Modine’s wife, a hot young thing who is finding her marriage difficult, seems to have eyes for Stathams steely Frank, although it is never mentioned in the dialogue.
When kidnappers take the young boy hostage, in order to create a terrorist attack (yep, one of those films) Statham at first finds himself targeted by the FBI (of course, they think he’s in on it) and then by the kidnappers, as he becomes an increasingly larger fly in the ointment. Franks code of protection, coupled with his 3 Rules, ensure that he goes after the boy to rescue him.
Along the way, he encounters various thugs and thugites, all whom seem to pack high powered weapons or a large quantity of axes, poles and other sharp objects. On a side note, what exactly do you call female move thugs? Thugites? It was as good as I could come up with. There’s one particularly nasty chick, Lola, played by Kate Nauta, who gives Frank a great deal of grief, and who isn’t afraid to trot about with little-to-no clothes on, and a the worst advertisement for cheap mascara you’ve ever seen. She’s as wooden as a pile of timber, not altogether attractive (in a slutty, filthy kind of way) yet looks good against Statham when they go toe-to-toe.
Fellow Brit Jason Flemyng plays a hitman/thug who gives Statham a real run-around, and while he’s not in the same acting class as anybody else on screen, it’s good to see that they’ve managed to ensure it’s not just US actors involved. François Berléand, a fine French actor in his own right, is utterly wasted in his role of a friend of Franks, who happens to get the inside scoop on the FBI. Also wasted is Keith David, as the hostage negotiation team from the FBI, his role amounting to little more than a glorified breathless rant.
Another thing working against the film (or for it, depending on your sense of humour) is the sheer absurdity of the action scenes, the stunts, the action-violence that ensues once the kidnapping takes place. Statham’s car manages to survive various ludicrously absurd events, including a bomb strapped to the undercarriage (?) and a rooftop chase that beggars belief.
Guns blazing, fists flying, bodies breaking, people dying, and even a lear jet plummeting into the ocean and managing tosurvive almost intact (instead of breaking apart like it should), this film is filled with the most stupendous action set-pieces that the budget would allow: director Louis Leterrier (The Incredible Hulk) has squeezed the most out of producer Luc Besson’s finances. The film barrels along with little regard for things like logic and reason, instead content to simply be a mindless action film with no delusions of grandeur altogether. You’ll either watch the film and wonder why they wasted so much money making it, or, if you’re like me, you’ll simply be entertained for 90 minutes of running, driving, shooting, explosion..ing fun. It’s not highbrow entertainment, but it is entertaining, and when your script calls on a bikini wearing, tattoo sporting, gun toting babe to lick the Hero’s face from chin to hairline, I guess that’s about all you can really ask.
I found Transporter 2 a real blast. Just don’t expect an intelligent, or logical, plot.