Transporter 2 (France/United Kingdom, 2005)

A movie review by James Berardinelli

I don't have a lot to say about Transporter 2. It's a sequel that outdoes the original in terms of flair and outrageousness, but it will appeal to much the same audience. If James Bond is too tame for you, Frank Martin (Jason Stratham) is your man. This guy is so suave, he keeps an extra suit in his trunk in case he gets blood on his current one. His adventures are lifted directly from the pages of comic book, with little consideration for prohibitions imparted by the laws of physics. Like logic, that sort of thing doesn't apply here. Transporter 2 delights in placing the main character in precarious situations, then having him use the most unlikely (not to mention unbelievable) methods to escape.

The key to the film working is that the filmmakers understand this is all ridiculous, and, while they don't play the movie strictly for laughs (nor is it intended to be a parody), they recognize that there needs to be a little tongue in cheek. Lead actor Jason Stratham is perfect for the part; what Frank lacks in depth (he has no backstory), he more than makes up for in charisma. Stratham never cracks a smile; when he makes a dire pronouncement, we tend to believe him.

This time around, Frank, a.k.a. "The Transporter," is protecting a different kind of package - a little boy by the name of Jack Billings (Hunter Clary). Jack is the son of a pharmaceuticals CEO (Matthew Modine), who is separated from his wife, Audrey (Amber Valletta). A group of good-for-nothing thugs are out to kidnap Jack. They include the deadly Lola (Katie Nauta), who likes firing guns while dressed in lingerie, and her lover, Gianni (Alessandro Gassman), who amuses himself by beating up his henchmen in hand-to-hand combat. At first, it looks like Frank saves Jack from stumbling into a trap, but when the Transporter makes a mistake, the bad guys are ready to capitalize on it.

Transporter 2 is almost all action, all the time, from opening titles to end credits. There are brief breaks - these are necessary for exposition, plot advancement, and horrible overacting by Matthew Modine, who plays the kidnapped boy's father. The scheme of the kidnappers, which is more complex than one might initially assume, is equal parts audacious and ludicrous. Once the truth is revealed, however, the movie doesn't pause long enough for the audience to contemplate how irrational it is. Instead, it moves smoothly to the next action sequence. Transporter 2 features plenty of martial arts fights (including one that's a ten-on-one affair) and chase scenes (most of which end with some vehicle - not necessarily a plane - airborne).

In The Transporter, Frank lived by three rules. In Transporter 2, he also lives by precepts, but this time there are four of them, and they're different than in the original. There's also a little more emotional content this time around (presumably to counterbalance the outlandishness of the action sequences). Frank and Jack have a relationship, and, after Jack is snatched, some of what occurs echoes Man on Fire.

Luc Besson, the French filmmaker who makes Hollywood-style movies, is the co-writer and co-producer of Transporter 2 (he served similar functions on The Transporter). Although Besson often directs, in this case he has ceded the job to Louis Leterrier, whose only other big screen credit is the Jet Li vehicle, Unleashed (also written by Besson). Leterrier knows how to film fight scenes. There's plenty of energy as Statham kicks, punches, and clobbers his way through wave after wave of foes. For fans of The Transporter, Transporter 2 offers what you're after - loud, kinetic, unflinching action. In essence, it's more of the same.

Transporter 2 (France/United Kingdom, 2005)

Run Time: 1:23
U.S. Release Date: 2005-09-02
MPAA Rating: "PG-13" (Violence, Sexual Situations, Nudity)
Subtitles: none
Theatrical Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1