The Transporter 2 Review
By Joe Lozito
With "The Transporter 2," producer Luc Besson means to beat critics at their own game. How can you criticize the silliness of a movie that embraces its own implausibility? When Frank Martin, the somber-to-the-point-of-drowsiness superdriver played here as in the 2002 original with an all-the-way-to-the-bank smirk by Jason Statham, sees the reflection of a bomb beneath his seemingly indestructible Audi he doesn't get out of the car and remove it. Instead he performs a corkscrew jump which would make "The Dukes of Hazzard" proud, dislodging the bomb on an opportunely-positioned hook. Ridiculous? Absolutely. Forgiven due to the quality of the rest of the film? Not quite.
Considering this is only the second film in what I'm sure will be a lucrative franchise, at least overseas, it seems a little soon to introduce a child into the mix (always the telltale sign of "jumping the shark"), but unfortunately the plot, which has something to do with infecting the world's drug enforcement officers with a deadly virus, actually defies closer inspection. The premise is such ham-handed action movie cliché, as is the pseudo-Italian villain (François Berléand), that I specifically chose not to think about it too much. There's even one of those trigger-happy, lingerie-wearing psychopaths that are always on hand in action movies, here played with deer-in-the-headlights moxie by model Kate Nauta.
The first "Transporter" was pretty ludicrous but it kept its wheels to the ground. With "T2", Mr. Besson reteamed with writing partner Robert Mark Kamen and apparently decided to abandon all narrative logic. There's actually a moment late in the film when Frank has no leads at all. He calls his friend, a French police chief being held by a Federal Marshal so charmed by the Frenchman's cooking he gives him the run of the precinct. Frank tells his friend "I have nothing" at which point his friend sneaks onto the police computer and magically pulls up the address of the bad guy. That's not just lazy screenwriting; it's insulting.
If you give the audience nothing to care about, you'd better at least keep the action coming. As exciting as some of the scenes are they are so obviously computer-assisted that they're not any fun. The filmmakers take such fetishistic pleasure in their featured vehicle (this time an Audi rather than a BMW) perhaps they didn't want to risk damaging it by performing any practical stunts.
Mr. Statham, however, gets time for plenty of fisticuffs thanks to martial arts choreographer extraordinaire Corey Yuen (who directed the first film). The fight scenes are inventive as always. Frank scales a truck to get onto a bridge, tips a boat on a bad guy and uses a fire hose to dispatch endless faceless thugs. Sadly, the edit-happy direction by Louis Leterrier doesn't give you much of an idea of what's going on.
More or less everyone involved with "Transporter 2" has done better work. Mr. Besson had a string of certified hits in the 90s including "La Femme Nikita", "The Professional", and "The Fifth Element". But of late he seems more interested in churning out the type of low budget action fare that plays well overseas and goes straight to import DVD in the US. Something tells me that's where you'll find "Transporter 3".