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Lots of action, no grace, no class
on 29 August 2012
In Jason Statham's first starring role he plays Frank Martin, an ex-something or other who now lives in the sunny French Riviera delivering packages for shady gentlemen. He likes the quiet life and has imposed a set of rules upon his underhanded deals to maintain the tranquility.
His latest package contains Lai, an Asian lady who can only speak in broken, phonetic English. For whatever reason he opens the package and throws his work ethic into turmoil. A million bad guys with a bad aim come after him but he always manages to come out on top despite the fight scenes being a blur.
The plot is nonsense. The only thing worth watching (or so I used to think) are the fight scenes, but they are so poorly edited (as is the whole film) that you never feel the impact or the excitement.
The Transporter is good enough if you want to switch your brain off and veg over some tame action against a scenic backdrop. It certainly ain't no classic.
For number 2 the action is relocated from the French Riviera to Miami, a city often featured in bad sequel movies (2 Fast 2 Furious, Bad Boys II, Police Academy 5). Frank Martin (a skin-headed, forever grimacing Jason Statham) no longer takes dodgy package from A to B, instead he's temping as a chauffeur for a wealthy family. But when the kid is snatched by stereotyped Colombian villain he springs back into action, kicking ass in his own special way.
It turns out that the kid has been injected with a deadly virus. And everyone he breathes on will catch it. And so on and so on. An interesting plot device that soon crumbles into a massive pile of plot holes.
The action doesn't have the same edge as it did before. I can appreciate far-fetched action films as long as they stay within relative distance of reality. Transporter 2 goes way beyond reality in well into stupidity, turning Frank Martin from delivery man into indestructible super-hero. After a while you'll realize this man can do anything and will always walk out of the worst scenario alive. It totally kills the excitement.
And as if the plot wasn't flimsy enough, the narrative just completely shatters and will leave you disorientated and lost among the brawling and battling. Characters come and go with no explanation, sub-plots are abandoned and the film is totally void of a denouement or climax. There's no satisfaction in the silly story being wrapped up.
All Transporter 2 really does is showcase a bunch of totally far-fetched fight scenes, while failing at everything else that could have made the film a contender. Even the relentlessly silly Danny the Dog did better than this.
Even though it's made by a European director and producer and funded with European money, something that gave the first such a unique feel, this feels an awful lot like a Hollywood trash flick. It's a shame the series had to stumble so soon. Since the end hints a third, one can only hope that Leterrier and Besson get their act together. What began as a series made in the style of Taxi, Ronin and Kiss of the Dragon has ended up tumbling into world where movies like Stealth and SWAT live. And that ain't good.
The movies presented here are not the uncut versions found on the French Blu-rays. The first movie doesn't have a very good picture but the sequel looks better. Both are in 2.35:1 1080p. The DTS HD-MA soundtracks are good enough. There are a fair amount of extras.