Sunday, October 14, 2012

Transporter 2

Have you ever seen a film that was so stupid, so inane and flat out ridiculous that you couldn't help but sit back and revel in its ludicrousness? Well, that's exactly the type of movie that is Transporter 2.

When the film starts we find out that Frank Martin (Jason Statham, defining the meaning of cool) has taken a job driving the young son of a prominent politician (Matthew Modine) and his beautiful wife (Amber Valletta) to and from school as a favor to a friend. The child is kidnapped by Italian racketeer Gianni (Alessandro Gassman) and his sado-masochistic girlfriend Lola (Kate Nauta) to be used for ransom and for a more sinister purpose. Frank promises to stop the bad guys and bring the child back safe. Much action ensues.
I like ridiculous movies. I like the fact that they defy logic and create a sense of "anything can happen at any time". They're the kind of movies that beg you to "shut up and enjoy the ride". That's the feeling I got while watching this film's many outlandish off-the-wall action scenes. I've never seen a man drive a car up a very convenient ramp thus launching it into the air, perform a barrel roll that positions the car in such a way that while it's underside is facing upwards a convenient crane's hook scrapes off a bomb that was attached to the car's undercarriage. The bomb explodes seconds after this happens and the car lands on all four wheels and drives off into the sunset. How ridiculous is that? Quite. But man, was it cool to see!

I have to give credit where credit is due. Jason Statham is the man! His cool and calm performance made me believe (for a split second) that he was capable of really doing all of these crazy things, like beat up a roomful of thugs with only a firehose as a weapon. He is like the new James Bond; he even straightens his tie like Bond before and/or after getting into a tussle. He's got the cool high-tech gadgets, the bitchin' car (which was indestructible I might add) and had hot ass chicks throwing themselves at his feet for a good screw.

The rest of the cast is serviceable. They do what they have to do and that's all. Modine plays an asshole. He comes off as one. Valletta plays the devoted mother. She comes off as one. Gassman plays a scheming villain. That's what we get.
Although model Kate Nauta, who plays the scantily clad dominatrix villainess Lola, comes out above all the rest of the supporting cast. The trailers made me laugh when I saw her shooting twin uzis in only her bra and panties. Well, it's still pretty comical in the film, but we see that her character would rather walk around naked in public than clothed so it grew on me. It's still stupid, but I'm a guy. T&A is T&A, and that low angle shot of her dumping the uzis clips was sweeeeeet!

Director Louis Leterrier, who directed the awesome Jet Li flick Unleashed, really shows a different style when compared to that film. Unleashed had its flashy moments, but it was a character drama and was deliberately shot in such a way that complimented the genre. He must have gotten his hands on some seriously strong ecstasy while working on this flick. Every shot is chaotic, with strange camera movements (that shifting shot was awesome), odd angles and crazy CGI enhancements. I have to say this guy can do it all. He's moving up my list of favorite directors. 

On the downside however, this film seriously lacks any kind of a plot. It’s cliched left and right with predictable outcomes around every corner. Some plot points are introduced and dropped (the love affair between Statham and Valletta), characters that aren't necessary to the plot show up (the French detective from the first film who is actually more annoying that Shu Qi) and the potential for some seriously cool kick-assery are never taken to their fullest (the fight between Statham and Nauta). Plus the film's PG-13 rating defies logic for this type of film. It's all about punishment and violence and we get no blood. Disappointing. Some of the CGI was crappy as well (the airplane from the end of the film) and really looked out of place and fake.
All in all I have to say that regardless of my feelings for the original film (I couldn't stand it, mainly due to some stupid plot twists, boring pace and the ever horrific acting of Shu Qi), this sequel improved on it in virtually all respects except in the plot department. It's a non-stop thrill ride that is fast, fun and entertaining to the max. So just 'shut up and enjoy the ride'!

3.5 out of 5

p.s. I might revisit the original film after seeing this. Maybe I'll enjoy it more.

<edit> ... and I did. After seeing how ridiculous the second film was I can now appreciate the first film for what it is... escapist fun. But Shu Qi is still obnoxious.

*written 9/3/05

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