Transporter 2 review by Mike LongWe've all seen the disappointing sequel which didn't live up to the quality of the previous film(s) in the series. But, what if we don't remember the first film...at all. Does this make it easier or more difficult to judge the sequel? Such is the case with Transporter 2. I know that I saw 2002's The Transporter, but I really don't remember it. Thus, I approached the sequel with a clean slate.
Jason Statham returns as professional driver Frank Martin in Transporter 2. While the first film took place in France (I think), Frank is now living in Miami and has taken a job as a chauffeur for the Billings family, specifically taking care of young Jack Billings (Hunter Clary). Mr. Billings (Matthew Modine) and his wife Audrey (Amber Valletta) are separated and although the job is only temporary, Frank clearly enjoys looking after Jack. Billings is involved with the Drug Enforcement Agency and is in Miami for a conference of other drug enforcement officials. Just as Frank is about to enjoy a visit from his old friend Tarconi (Francois Berleand), Jack is kidnapped and Frank is suspected of being involved. Determined to clear his name, and rescue the boy, Frank pursues the kidnappers, who are led by Gianni (Alessandro Gassman). As Frank gets closer to the villains, he learns that the kidnapping was only part of their evil scheme.
I may have exaggerated a bit when I was discussing my inability to remember The Transporter earlier. It is true that I remember very little about the film, but the one thing that I do recall is that the movie went very over the top towards the end that the ludicrous nature of the story may the film difficult to watch. Thus, I went into the sequel expecting more of the same and was pleasantly surprised to find that despite the fact that some of the scenes in the film border on science-fiction in the way in which they twist reality, the movie is fun and fast-paced.
Let's face it, when we watch something like Transporter 2, we aren't looking for a great story -- we're there for the action. And while the movie definitely delivers the action, it also has a fairly decent story...or at least one which is able to hold up the film. The kidnapping plot echoes Man on Fire, but Transporter 2 is nowhere near as heavy-handed as that film. Jason Statham has made a career out of playing ultra-cool guys, and this usually equals a distinct lack of emotion. Having Frank care for the child gives the film a center and makes the insane proceedings a tad easier to deal with. Once Gianni's plans are revealed, the movie actually begins to veer into James Bond territory making one wonder if Statham would have made a good 007.
But, enough about the story, how's the action? For the most part, it's pretty good. Yes, there is one scene involving a car stunt which asks the audience to suspend its disbelief to the point that Michael Bay would blush, but otherwise the action is only merely over the top. Well...except for the ending...and the big shootout...OK, the movie is completely out of control, but that is apparently what co-writer/producer Luc Besson likes in his movies. Transporter 2 exists in a world where Frank Martin is essentially Superman and if you can't accept that, then you will get no pleasure out of the film. If you can temporarily live in a world where seemingly ordinary men can dodge bullets and leap from buildings, then the movie can be lots of fun. Returning director Louis Leterrier keeps things moving along at a break-neck pace and squeezes an amazing amount of action into the movie's 87-minute running time. Of course, it's brain-dead action, but it's interesting to watch nonetheless.
When I watched The Transporter, I honestly didn't expect a sequel. I was even further surprised that I enjoyed the sequel more than the original (a rare occurrence). While I don't foresee this franchise going any further (I could be wrong!), actor Jason Statham has given us a Clint Eastwood-esque character for the new millennium with his quietly deadly Frank Martin character. Transporter 2 is a short-and-sweet action film which will satisfy the craving for thrill-seekers, but its lack of depth will leave others feeling empty.
Transporter 2 crashes onto DVD courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The DVD features both the widsecreen and full-frame versions of the film (the DVD is a "flipper"). For the purposes of this review, only the widescreen version was viewed. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image here looks very good, as the picture is very sharp and clear. There is no overt grain on the picture and the image is free from defects from the source material. The colors look fantastic and the image is well-balanced. There were no major problems with artifacting or edge-enhancement. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. (Given that it's a Fox release, I was surprised by the absence of a DTS track.) The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects with no evidence of hissing. The surround sound and bass effects on the film are excellent and they really bring the action to life. The car crashes and whizzing bullets fill the rear channels, while the explosions rock the subwoofer. A very good transfer overall.
The DVD contains extra features on both sides of the disc. There are 14 "Deleted and Extended Scenes", which contain 20 minutes of footage. Most of these are very incidental scenes, although we do get extended versions of three action scenes. The DVD also contains a "Blooper Reel", a "Making of Transporter 2 Featurette", and a "Making of the Music Featurette", but these items were not contained on the DVD copy that I reviewed, so I can't comment on them.
6 out of 10 Jackasses