NOW PLAYING: Transporter 2

Posted: Tuesday, September 06, 2005


  Jason Statham in 20th Century Fox's Transporter 2 - 2005

Jason Statham in 20th Century Fox's Transporter 2 - 2005

An Open Apology to The Guy in the Row in Front of Me and My Friend at the Theater: Dear Guy, I sincerely and wholeheartedly apologize for ruining your appreciation of this fine, fine piece of cinema with my barely muffled chortles and snickers. How insensitive I was, to spoil your enjoyment of the Transporter’s fabulous stunts with my groans and guffaws. The time he chases a school bus down the freeway on a jet-ski, or the time he gamely drove his car off the roof of a parking garage only to arrive safely on a lower floor of a different parking building; these are classic moments of action filmmaking, and we ruined it. I can’t tell you how embarrassed I am that my friend couldn’t stop laughing at the finely crafted dialogue and nuanced acting, even when you leaned over in your seat and pointed out “It’s not that funny.” You’re right. It’s not funny. Not funny at all.

Actually, I was a little embarrassed, but c’mon. The Transporter 2?! Or, excuse me, Transporter 2. No The, we’re too cool for articles. You had to know it was going to be bad. I knew it, but then I was one of the unlucky few who saw the first Transporter. In case you missed it, I’ll sum up. Jason Statham is a delivery man. Only, he’s a really, really good delivery man. He always knows his tire pressure and fuel level, has mapped out the route with all the shortcuts, and even has a super-cool car that is, apparently, completely indestructible. He is, in fact, such a good delivery man, that has earned the right to be called Transporter. So, in the first movie, he transported around Europe for a while, and then ran afoul of a bunch of bad guys, all of whom he delivered a major butt-kicking to. In this film, our Transporter finds himself in Miami working as a chauffeur for a highly placed cabinet member’s son. He transports him to school. He transports him to soccer practice. He transports him to the doctor. You get the picture. But when a Columbian villain and his barely clad enforcer decide to kidnap the little boy in order to fulfill the nefarious details of a dastardly plot, our hero starts transporting mayhem, express delivery.

This movie is, basically, a low-rent version of Man on Fire, without any of what made that movie clever or relevant. Transporter 2, instead, revels in increasingly absurd action sequences in an effort to blind the audience to the atrocious writing, acting, and production they are being subjected to. More often than not hammy and overly dramatic, the script occasionally tries for laughs, only succeeding in the unintended kind. Most of the effects and stunts are so overly complex and unlikely that they defy description, the two listed above being among the simplest to relate. At one time, high octane action that involved complex choreography rather than just bullets was a welcome thing. Jackie Chan basically made a career out of it. But now, the audience is expected to believe that the hero is not only tougher, better trained, and smarter than the bad guys, but that he can actually break the laws of physics as well. That car goes through more front end collisions than I’ve ever seen, and there is nary a scratch on it at the end of the movie. Our hero actually survives a plane crash into the ocean and the most he suffers is a ruined shirt. This is not a fantasy movie (well, it is, but you get my point.)

Even more convoluted than the action is the plot. Why is it that these movie villains have to dream up the most complicated way around a problem that they can? I won’t spoil it for you, because I guess it’s kind of a “surprise” when you find out what the real plot is, but suffice it to say that I could have achieved the objective with a lot less headache. Inept screenwriters tend to do the same thing we all learned to do in high school. If you don’t know what your talking about, try to fool the teacher with all kinds of extraneous details and big words, like “extraneous.” They’re then so blinded by your complex thought patterns that they completely miss the fact that you know nothing about the topic. Unfortunately, it didn’t work then, and it doesn’t work now, though our high school term papers didn’t have millions of dollars riding on them.

The Transporter series (maybe if I call it a “series” we’ll get a third one) is little more than a shabby shadow of the James Bond adventures. There is all of the ridiculous action without any of the cool. All of the British with way too much French thrown in. Its only saving grace is in star Statham, who must have been contractually bound to make this movie. Statham, though bad here, is usually a pretty good actor. Let’s hope these movies don’t transport his career straight down the tubes. Grade: D-

Transporter 2 is rated PG-13 for violence, language, and brief partial nudity.

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