Transporter 2 Review
The best in the business is back in the game
Quotables. One liners. The sort of dialogue from a film that is easily identifiable. I used to pride myself on being able to answer which episode or film a particular quote was from in the first Nitpickers Guide to Star Trek: The Next Generation quiz. Sadly, I can no longer, but other quotes spring to mind, there is one in particular that I recall from The Transporter, a film laughable bad, but harmless enough, which I found so laugh out loud hilarious, it actually made the film more enjoyable. The line was towards the end of the film, and was not even spoken by Frank Martin, the Transporter himself. No, it was Lai's (Qi Shu) line, and was “He was a bast**d, but he was my father.” Ok, perhaps not the most famous line in movie history, but it is one that is indelibly printed in my mind and will forever be associated with the crass fluff as the Transporter was. In fact, I believe, it is the presence of that line that swayed the Fox executive to finance a sequel, because there is precious little else to recommend in it! Facetious, of course, a reasonable box office taking and substantial DVD takings were the deciding factor for this sequel, where once again Jason Statham dons the 'Reservoir Dogs' suit for some high octane action.
Frank Martin will transport anything anywhere; he is a man of principle and rules. During this second outing he is taking a hiatus to help out a friend, his cargo is a young boy, Jack Billings, whom he his transporting too and from school in Miami. Jacks parents are divorced and still not on that good a terms, with Audrey, Jacks mum, felling somewhat lonely and dejected. When an attempt is made to kidnap Jack, Frank finds himself involved in a rescue mission involving international drugs cartels, stopping a deadly viral pandemic and contains the kind of heart stopping action, thrills and spill associated with a big budget Hollywood blockbuster.
If I had to describe Trnasporter 2 in one word, that word would be nonsense. It is the kind of rubbish that the Hollywood machine has been churning out for years, with moments of sheer impossibility, stilted acting, plot holes big enough to swallow you whole, laughable dialogue, all action and no plot. If you thought the Transporter was bad, wait until you've seen this sequel, it is bigger, bolder, stupider and more ridiculous. Its remit is to contain as much action in the shortest amount of time by keeping the most profitable certificate to gain the highest possible return, and it does exactly that. Expect nothing more.
Now this kind of film can often empower the adolescent male, the target audience, into feeling themselves the hero. Indeed, I must admit to being somewhat envious myself. But it was not for Frank Martin. I did not once feel that I could take on hoards of axe wielding henchmen with only immovable parallel bars or a fire extinguisher (in a scene clearly inspired by any number of Jackie Chan films). Neither did I envy his ability to take out more henchmen with an eight foot steel pole or a fire hose (see the Matrix Reloaded, or again any number of Jackie Chan films). I wasn't bothered that I could not bound tall buildings or survive plane crashes or spectacular falls without a scratch or even pain. Neither was I envious of his driving skills; being able to flip a car 180 degrees in mid air to remove a bomb attached to the undercarriage or jump tens of metres between car parks and through walls meant nothing to me. However, I was extremely envious of his car. The fact that it is not only bullet proof, but can pile through walls and into steel ceiling supports knocking them down without a dent or even a scratch is a highly desirable commodity. I mean, think of the cheap insurance premiums for an indestructible car!
The only serious concerns I have about the film is its nature and certificate. It is a crazy violent film, gun violence, martial arts, bone breaking and death. All shown without consequence to obtain the converted PG-13 certificate and thus almost guarantee a box office return. It is this casual attitude towards violence that worries me, I know the film is not meant to represent reality, the impossible situations and fantastic elements remove it without question, but the amount of one on one violence perpetrated by Martin against his enemies far out ways any other portion of the film; within Jacky Chan films (from which much inspiration is drawn) there are elements of comedy, and thus the violence is taken as almost slapstick, there maybe kicks and punches but no one is really hurt; this is simply not the case with Transporter 2. The film may not take itself seriously, but it takes its violence very seriously, personally I find this a little worrying.
The box is embossed with journalistic quotes that this outing is 'better than the original'. Even the makers, in the extras portion, are overly enthusiastic on how much better this film is in compared to the first, what with bigger stunts, a plot (no less) and more action. I, however, cannot agree. Though I listened in vein throughout lines like “better dead than late” or “My problem isn't physical... it's psychological” they are not a patch on “He was a bast**d, but he was my father” and thus I have to conclude that Transporter 2 is not a patch on the original. Transporter 2 requires brain removal to enjoy; alternatively an easier way is alcohol, the effect is much the same, I only wished I thought of that sooner.
For my parting words I will leave you with this thought, one of the pre menu ads is for Tony Scott's Man on Fire, a film that Transporter 2 copies shamelessly. I only hope that anyone watching this rubbish will have the idea to seek out Man on Fire to see how a film should really be done.