If you were to
walk into The Transporter 2 without having seen the
first film in which Jason Statham played a tight-lipped,
square-jawed driver, you might have a lot of questions.
Even if you did see the first one, you might still have
one very burning one: why on Earth did they make a second?
Lifting a basic
set-up from last year's Man on Fire without bothering
with those annoyances like setting and character development,
The Transporter 2 brings Statham back to the role
that made him semi-famous. This time around, hero Frank
Martin has taken some time out from his usual taciturn and
possibly lawbreaking activities to play chauffeur for a
young boy (Hunter Clary) from a troubled but extremely powerful
Of course the
boy's mother is reasonably hot, played by former supermodel
Amber Valletta. Of course the boy's father (Matthew Modine)
is both important politically and distant personally, so
that mom will warm up to this sinewy yet very very moral
driver. The sexual aspect flames up and burns out pretty
quickly, because director Louis Leterrier knows that we
Americans much prefer violence.
and violence collide with wanna-be rocker Kate Nauta, a
cold-eyed blonde who dresses up only enough to keep the
movie from having outright nudity. As Lola (oh, so cleverly
named), Nauta straddles the fine line between actress and
videogame character better than perhaps even the women from
Sadly, writers Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen didn't bother
providing her anything more than the outline of her underwear.
that anybody has much depth. The Transporter 2 is
an almost shocking turnaround from Besson and Leterrier's
last collaboration, Jet Li:
Unleashed. That film tried to use violence as a
counterpoint to the salvation of the soul in art. Sure,
it was occasionally awkward, but it reached for something.
It's hard to say what The Transporter 2 reaches for,
other than unwary moviegoers' dollars.
though Martin follows a fairly strict don't ask don't tell
policy about every other job he has taken but this one,
it should not horrify him that the bad guys are, well, bad
guys willing to use a kid to cause international terror.
He has bonded, however awkwardly, via "The Game," a riddle
me this that the kid plays better than your average hobbit.
But there's no real explanation for that, and no implication
that Martin learns anything, bookending the film with a
franchise-building catchphrase (strangely enough, the same
as Frasier Crane's), "I'm listening."
We stopped listening,
however, after the opening sequence that formed a huge part
of the ad campaign. Apparently, Frank sits in his car in
an empty parking garage until such time as he must go pick
up his charge. Big city, mid-day, and there's no other car
in sight, making him a ripe target for a carjacking. Actually,
it's just a ripe target for an excuse to show off how well
Leterrier can stage an action sequence, and it makes no
sense in the context of the film.
Frank must have
an inner life, as evidenced by his friend the French cop,
Tarconi (Francois Berleand). The poor guy comes to visit
and ends up having only enough time to cook and make fools
out of the local FBI agents. If you follow the timeline
correctly, he may have actually planned a mere 24 hour vacation.
I'll give him 48, perhaps, just to be kind to Leterrier.
It's loud, empty
but admittedly full of stunts that will make you smile.
Who knows if it could have been more? The Transporter
2 is just a by the numbers exercise. If there's any
justice, the next number will not be The Transporter