The Transporter 2 (2005) / Action-Thriller
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for violence, sexuality, and language
Running Time: 88 min.
Cast: Jason Statham, Alessandro Gassman, Amber Valletta, Kate Nauta, Matthew Modine, Jason Fleming, Keith David, Hunter Clary, Shannon Briggs, Francois Berleand
Director: Louis Leterrier
Screenplay: Luc Besson, Robert Mark Kamen
The Transporter 2 would probably make a great video game, but without the ability to plug in a control pad yourself, it is about as fun as watching one in demo mode. As I recall, I said the exact same thing about the last movie directed by Louis Leterrier, Unleashed, so I think he has found a niche job in case directing big budget action flicks doesn't pan out. While it is true that the goods are delivered for those merely seeking some good action, boy, is it ever a stupid movie. I'm going to guess that The Transporter, the original 2002 movie, must have made a decent amount worldwide, because it sure didn't do very well in the United States, grossing only about $25 million. But then again, with the exception of the heavy doses of product placement and CGI-laden special effects, this one is very modest in all ways that count -- a modest cast, a modest script, and a modest running time. Perhaps the biggest asset of The Transporter 2 is that it is economical, delivering all of the explosive action you could want in a film without letting things like characters, an interesting plot, or plausible explanations get in the way. It's dumb action for people not in the mood to think, and little more than random images to fall asleep by for those not impressed by mindless action.
Jason Statham (Cellular, The Italian Job) returns in the titular role as ex-special ops turned professional driver Frank Martin. His latest assignment is to chauffer a young boy named Jack (Clary) around, although he isn't just any boy. His father happens to be leading the war on drugs as the country's drug czar, which makes young Jack the target of a kidnapping headed by world renown bad-ass, Gianni (Gassman, Hamam) . Despite Frank's physical prowess, Gianni manages to nab the kid, requesting $5 million dollars in exchange for the boy's return. It's a simple enough operation, but there is a Trojan horse plan in the works, and the lives of hundreds of the country's leaders may be unwitting victims in Gianni's diabolical plans.
While the sleek, well-constructed action pieces do impress, it's almost a shame that there are moments of dialogue in between them. This script, another in a lengthy series of plot retreads by Luc Besson (Wasabi, Kiss of the Dragon) and Robert Mark Kamen (The Fifth Element, A Walk in the Clouds) , is rife with horribly written dialogue. Thank goodness there aren't any good actors to be found anywhere within the confines of the entire production (with the possible exception of Keith David), because the over-the-top delivery of these lines almost makes you overlook just how awful the writing truly is. As bad as the dialogue is, the plot, seemingly lifted straight from Man on Fire, is even worse, devolving into a convoluted scheme involving some ridiculous virus and the acquisition of antidote. When I was about 10 years old, I probably would have written something similar to the things that transpire here, but shouldn't we expect more from Besson, the man that crafted The Professional and La Femme Nikita, two of the finest action films of the last twenty years?
There's really only one way to look at The Transporter 2, and that is as a pared-down James Bond knock-off for adolescents. Comic book dialogue meets cartoon physics in this over-the-top helping of the slick and superficial. Not even Statham's mannered, stoic delivery can save this one from the trash heap where xXx resides.
©2005 Vince Leo