"The story is ridiculous, but that's okay.  It's still a good time."










The Transporter 2
The Masked Reviewer

Frank Martin is back!  Who is Frank Martin?  He's the guy who moves whatever you need from point A to point B (so long as it'll fit in his Audi A-8).  He's played by Jason Statham.  Who's Jason Statham?  Did you see Snatch?  Did you see The Italian Job?  Did you see Ghosts of Mars?  Did you see The One?  Did you see The Transporter?  No?  Then you probably don't know who he is.  But, you should.

The first Transporter was a great action flick.  The biggest weakness by all accounts was the lead actress, who didn't speak very good English and didn't do much more than scream in a very high-pitched, piercing voice.  You could grate cheese with her voice.  But it was so shrill that you'd lose your appetite after it was grated and then you wouldn't eat it and your cheese would go bad.   And no one likes to waste cheese.

Written and produced by Luc Besson (of La Femme Nikita fame), the first Transporter had awesome fight scenes and some memorable driving stunts.  Jason Statham was a charismatic lead, although they didn't waste too much time with dialogue.  Hewas a great martial artist on the big screen.  The fight choreography was done by director Corey Yuen.  He came up with action sequences for Cradle 2 the Grave, The One, Lethal Weapon 4, Romeo Must Die, X-Men, and  Kiss of the Dragon -- in fact, fans of Jet Li's American movies will notice many sequences are very similar to that style, in terms of both moves and cinematics.

For The Transporter 2, Luc Besson is again the writer/producer and Corey Yuen is again the fight choreographer, but the film is directed by Louis Leterrier (Leterrier is French for "the small yippy dog", probably).  Louis Leterrier previously directed Jet Li in Unleashed, which had some problems.  Unfortunately, so does this film.

The Masked Reviewer really enjoyed the first film.  But, the Masked Reviewer also remembers the previews.  It looked pretty cool, but there was one scene in the trailer where Frank (Jason Statham) is being attacked and someone shoots a shoulder-mounted rocket at him.  So, using his Special Forces training, he picks up a dinner tray and uses it to deflect the rocket out the window.  That was, to put it mildly, really weak...it's easy to suspend disbelief as he's taking on throngs of bad guys with ease, or dodging bullets, or doing other things that we all know are highly implausible, but that clip made it look like a scene from The Naked Gun.  Fortunately, they cut that scene and it doesn't even appear on the DVD.

This is relevant because the new Transporter has a lot of completely ridiculously impossible stuff in it.  Many people will compare this film to a Bond film...there's a little bit of gadgetry, some fighting, some fancy cars and fancy driving, and a British accent.  Over the years, the Bond films went further and further over the top -- to the point of campiness (especially during the Roger Moore years).  Incredulous scenes would get laughs, but it was all part of the fun.

The impossible stuff in this film pushes the boundaries in a James Bond movie.  It's beyond James Bond.  It's superhero.  It's even beyond superhero.  It's just...stupid.  The response from the audience was sort of a stunned silence during some of these scenes.  A few people groaned "yeah, right."  It's one thing to see something that you know isn't really possible but you're willing to let it slide if it fits in the movie.  It's another to do something that you don't even believe could be performed under ideal conditions ever, with highly trained professionals and infinite takes. 

Now, with movies like Crouching Tiger you see people fly and you buy it because it fits the reality of the story.  You watch a Star Wars flick and you're fine with Jedi powers, light sabers, and hyper-space travel.  But the world of the Transporter is -- or was, at least -- our real world.  They take too many liberties with pushing the envelope and it isn't cool and it isn't funny (it's never played for laughs).  Instead, it's just stupid and makes for the worst distractions in an otherwise fun film. 

Jason Statham is great, picking up where he left off.  There's not much character development, but you get the idea fast enough that you won't be lost if you didn't see the first film.  There are a few inside jokes that you'll miss if you didn't see the first film, and the appearance of Francois Berleand (he's French) might seem totally random if you didn't see the first Transporter.  As a matter of fact, it is kind of random, even if you did see it.  Remember how they brought back Al in the second Die Hard movie?  It's a lot like that.

The other actors are all good, though the evil woman, played by Kate Nauta, is the most fun next to Statham.  She's the hot terrorist who runs around with dual-silenced-laser-sited machine pistols.  She's clearly psychotic (the character, not necessarily the actress) and obviously well-paid (dual-silenced-laser-sited machine pistols aren't cheap, you know), and yet, she apparently can't afford pants, as we see her running around in bra and stockings for the entire film.  Of course, this is not a bad thing.

There's a kid in the movie, but he's more of a prop and mercifully they don't spend too much time focusing on him.  He does an acceptable job, nothing special, nothing horrible, just a Generic Kid.  If the kid's parents are reading this, sorry...the Masked Reviewer is sure your kid will grow up to be the next Leonardo DiCaprio, not the next Todd Bridges.  The parents of the kid are played by Matthew Modine (an odd choice) and Amber Valletta.

The other bad guy is played by Alessandro Gassman.  He's supposed to be a big bad-ass.  There's something missing, though...he has all the stereotypical elements in place -- he's got long greasy hair, he wears fancy suits, and he speaks with an accent.  But he never quite nails the evil-doer role.  Also, they made a point of showing how tough he was in his introductory scene, but we never got to see  him use those skills against the hero.  That was a bit of a let down.

The story is ridiculous, but that's okay.  It's still a good time.  Bio terror, drug dealers, kidnapping...it's all in there. 

For those of you that want to know, the car from The Transporter 2 is an Audi A-8.  The cell phone he uses is a Nokia...the model will be listed here soon.  It is, after all, all about the marketing, isn't it?

The bottom line is that the way over-the-top stuff has reduced the Masked Reviewer's fondness for this film.  Remember how XXX 2 sucked?  No?  Of course you don't, because you probably didn't see it, or if you did, you blocked it out of memory.  Have you noticed that the James Bond franchise has had some major slips?  That happens when they cross the line from "this is impossible but I can let it slide" to "oh, come on now...Austin Powers is more believable!"  That's what's happened here.  It's too bad...they could've easily fixed some of those problems with just the tiniest amount of good writing, but instead it's just ridiculous.  However, the fight scenes are still entertaining (although some bits do seem lifted from Corey Yuen's other work) and the driving segments have some cool stuff. 

If you loved the first one, you'll probably like this one too.  It'll probably get a bigger audience, and with any luck they'll do a third Transporter (the Masked Reviewer will go out on a limb and predict it will be called The Transporter 3) and maybe that one will tone it down again.  Or, maybe they'll keep going in the direction they took this movie.  Here's a predicted scene...surrounded by twenty armed guys, Frank dodges a bullet, then leaps forty feet in the air to jump-kick a passing plane that's about to land, knocks the front landing gear off, the tire knocks the gun out of the first thug's hand, then bounces in a circle knocking the gun out of everyone else's hand, then Frank lands on the tire and runs on it, balanced like a trained bear, to get away.  The plane crashes and explodes in a fireball, blowing up a forty square mile area, but Frank is able to leap out of the way into the water, landing on a passing sea turtle.  In movies like Charlie's Angels 2, the whole movie is intended to be fun and ridiculous...The Transporter 2 is supposed to be fun, but...oh, you get the idea.


Expectation from the Title: Not to be confused with The Trainspotter 2, the sequel that finds Ewan McGregor trying heroin again.  "If at first you don't succeed..."

Mother's Rule (Always Say Something Good About Everything):  Jason Statham always seems very professional.

The Pros: Great fighting, charismatic lead, fun female villain.

The Cons: Ridiculously impossible sequences make it impossible to suspend disbelief and they're not played as campy or fun.  Weak plot.  Main villain is kind of lame.

Jason Stratham, Jason Satahm, Luke Basson, Luc Besant, Kate Nata, Cory Yuen, Jet Lee are all in this review!

Copyright 2003, Michael D. Lynn