April 2, 2006
Starring: Jason Statham, Alessandro Gassman, Amber Valletta, Kate Nauta, Matthew Modine, Jason Flemyng, Keith David, Hunter Clary, Shannon Briggs, Raymond Tong, George Kapetan, Jeff Chase, ,
Ex-Special Forces man Frank Martin is back for more impromptu violence with household objects as the little boy he looks after is abducted by nasty men with accents.
There’s a certain appeal about both the Transporter films and their leading man, Guy Ritchie escapee Jason Statham. He’s a no-nonsense kick-ass action hero straight from the Arnie/Snipes mould and since the film never tries to be anything other than a straight action movie much fun can be had with the OTT action on display, from gunfights in hospitals to beach-bound car chases.
The sequel to the surprise hit of 2002, Transporter 2 is bigger and arguably better. There are easily double the number of action set pieces and writers Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen come up with plenty of original fighting scenarios. We find Frank now working as a driver for a senator’s son (someone’s been watching Man on Fire), who is then abducted by men who talka like ziss and ‘av lots of henchmen wiz gurns. The first half of the movie is a top notch thrill ride (the highlight being a car chase across Miami beach) but the film slightly falters in the second half due to the discarding of the Frank/Kid story and introducing a deadly virus theme straight out of 24. Also The Transporter isn’t particularly known for its realistic situations, but the odd dodgy CGI shot mixed with good old-fashioned stunts doesn’t gel too well (the crane/bomb scene is a big no-no).
Statham steps up to the plate in the way of doing his own stunts (you just know he had groin strain after doing those fancy kicks) and while his accent is shaky, it helps separate him from the stale British gangster genre he’s known for. Sadly his next film was Revolver with Guy Ritchie (some people you just can’t help). The villains are cardboard cutouts, as to be expected from this type of international-production-but-set-in-America, and without a Gary Oldman or even a Sean Bean for Frank to stand up to, we’re left with a weak third act where all the fighting becomes a bit repetitive.
Still, this isn’t a film to analyse that deeply and as far as action movies go this is one of the best (if not the smartest) to come along for a while. The cars are fast, the guns are loud and the accents are bizarre (Statham’s old chum Jason Flemyng turns up as a Russian doctor. No, really). It’s a little too long and the influences are obvious but it’s a shameless big bag of fun.
Many deleted scenes include more character stuff with Amber Valetta and a longer car chase (Apparently. We couldn’t tell the difference). There’s a bafflingly long music featurette (why not put an explosives featurette on the Amadeus DVD while you’re at it), a five minute standard ‘making of’ and best of all: the blooper reel where Statham and Flemyng understandably find it hard to keep a straight face.