THE TRANSPORTER (2002), tailored by French writer-director Luc Besson to the stone-faced, gravel-voiced persona of U.K. diver-turned-model Jason Statham, was a singularly stupid action juggernaut whose breakneck pace almost, if not quite, mitigated its unrepentant ridiculousness. The sequel is a live-action Road Runner cartoon, which is a criticism to the degree that you think story, characterization and some fidelity (no matter how tenuous) to the laws of gravity are important. Man in Black-and-White Frank Martin (Statham), a former special-ops agent turned "transporter" for hire, has taken an unlikely temporary gig chauffeuring the small son (Hunter Clary) of Miami-based drug czar Billings (Matthew Modine) and his unhappy wife, Audrey (Amber Valletta, whose transition from modeling to acting is more a matter of terminology than fact). When the boy is kidnapped, Frank suspects there's more to the matter than ransom money, and sets about figuring out what the child's abductors are up to, even as the FBI predicates its investigation on the assumption that he was in on the crime. Frank is right, of course; Russian scientists, Colombian narcotics cartels, a bio-engineered virus and an upcoming conference of antidrug officials from around the world are involved. Frank is forced to go head to head against oily mercenary Gianni (Alessandro Gassman, whose father, veteran actor Vittorio, was know as "the Italian Laurence Olivier") and gun-slinging, skanky scanties-clad überbitch Lola (model Katie Nauta), who performs miraculous feats of acrobatic mayhem in sky-high heels. His only allies are Audrey and his old friend, small-town French police inspector Tarconi (Francois Berleand, reprising his role from the first film), who had the misfortune to choose this weekend to vacation in Florida. Things blow up, cars fly, jet skis sail down highways and international disaster is averted, no thanks to the boneheaded bumbling of federal and local law enforcement. If not precisely charismatic, Statham brings authentic athleticism and a certain cheeky presence to his lightly written role. The film's relation to physical reality is epitomized by the scene in which Frank drives off a pier, executes a graceful mid-air barrel that scrapes off the explosive stuck to his car's undercarriage on the edge of a dangling crane hook, then lands on the other side of the inlet and speeds off. If you enjoy watching other people play high-end-video driving games, it doesn't get much better than that.
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- Released: 2005
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: THE TRANSPORTER (2002), tailored by French writer-director Luc Besson to the stone-faced, gravel-voiced persona of U.K. diver-turned-model Jason Statham, was a singularly stupid action juggernaut whose breakneck pace almost, if not quite, mitigated its unr… (more)