Should I Watch..? Transporter 2
What's the big deal?
Transporter 2 is an action thriller film released in 2005 and is the sequel to The Transporter. Once again directed by Louis Leterrier and produced by Luc Besson, the film sees Jason Statham return as professional driver Frank Martin who is drawn into a kidnap plot in Florida after the son of a politician is snatched from Frank's supervision. The supporting cast includes François Berléand (also reprising from the first film), Alessandro Gassman, Amber Valetta, Kate Nauta and Matthew Modine. Despite a mixed reception from critcs, the film earned twice as much as its predecessor with global takings around $85 million. It was then followed by Transporter 3 in 2008 and a short-lived TV series before being unsuccessfully rebooted in 2015 as The Transporter Refuelled.
What's it about?
Frank Martin has moved away from the south of France and relocated to Florida where he lives a much quieter life working as a chauffeur for the wealthy Billings family. After meeting his French friend Inspector Tarconi who arrives in Miami on holiday, Frank escorts the Billings only child - Jack - to the doctors for a check-up but is alarmed to discover that heavily armed gangsters led by the alluring Lola are ready and waiting for them. After kidnapping Jack and realising Frank unharmed, the kidnappers led by local hoodlum Gianni demand a ransom from the Billings who then pay up and find Jack released to them.
Unbeknown to everyone, though, is the fact that Jack has been infected with an incredibly contagious virus that will kill anyone who comes into contact with the carrier. Despite almost everyone thinking he had something to do with the kidnapping, Frank tracks down one of the fake doctors waiting for them at the initial ambush and quickly discovers Gianni's true intentions regarding Jack's father Jefferson, who has a high-profile job within the US Government...
Luc Besson & Robert Mark Kamen *
Release Date (UK)
25th November, 2005
Action, Crime, Thriller
What's to like?
I remember when I was a young boy, playing with my Matchbox cars either at home or smuggled into the school playground. I'd race them at impossible speeds, driving them up walls and doing impossible stunts while imaginary explosions took place in the background (I was heavily into "The A-Team" at the time). Imagine my surprise to discover that Transporter 2 mirrored my childhood games almost exactly. The film is chock-full of insanity from the very beginning as Frank and his unstoppable Audi take on all comers with a style and flair that defies logic and common sense. Of course it can jump from skyscraper to skyscraper or flip itself over against a crane to knock a bomb attached to the bottom of the vehicle off. Why not?
Statham really looks at home during the action scenes now as he dispatches baddies like a beefier Jackie Chan. But his accent still wanders from London's East End to Generic, USA but compared to the rest of the cast, he's positively magnetic. The only other bright spots are Statham's old buddy from Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels Jason Flemyng and the frankly bizarre character portrayed by model and singer Kate Nauta. Lola's typical attire (or lack of it) is entirely unbecoming of a professional killer but it makes a certain impression, at least.
- The film was originally meant to have a R-rating but the studio demanded a more box-office friendly PG-rating instead. In fact, the studio wasn't sure if a sequel to The Transporter would even be made but after strong DVD sales, it was given the go-ahead.
- The car Frank uses is an Audi A8L W12. The W12 refers to the car's engine - essentially two V6 engines combined to double the output. In the first film, he drove a BMW 7 series.
- When he's found at Frank's place, Tarconi tells them that he is the cook. Lai used the same excuse to Tarconi when he found her at Frank's place in the first film.
What's not to like?
While the first film might have been a little far-fetched, Transporter 2 is light-years away from being realistic. Anyone looking for a gripping thriller or an action film where you don't already know the outcome should probably continue looking elsewhere because this movie will baffle and depress you. It's a Friday night, boy's night in kinda movie where the liberal application of alcohol is not necessarily a bad thing when it comes to following the film's plot.
It also feels trashier than The Transporter - the character of Lola being one example of the film's desperate need to please. There's no attempt to explain why the film's lead character suddenly appears in Florida instead of the much more picturesque south of France and for reasons I can't quite put my finger on, the whole enterprise feels like a multi-million pound commercial for Audi. It doesn't even have a point - while the first film looked at the often-ignored world of people smuggling, this just has a drugs baron with a grudge. It may well be utterly bonkers but Transporter 2 forgets to inject any real sense of fun plus it's also stripped of the surprise of seeing Statham kick several colours of crap of everybody - something the first film genuinely possessed. Here, Statham takes his shirt off (and makes me feel inadequate in the process!) and we all know what's coming...
Should I watch it?
Trashy and as cheap as they come, Transporter 2 is the sort of film that runs like a music video - full of images and loud noises to distract you from something more worthwhile like a book or conversation. It's loose grip on reality makes the film feel like a young boy's imagination running wild while the heavily edited action and violence means that the same young boy can watch it without getting too mentally damaged. But really, Transporter 2 is as disposable an action film as I can think of so personally, I wouldn't bother.
Great For: Audi's sales figures, Audi's shareholders, fans of the first film
Not So Great For: intelligent people, Kate Nauta's acting career, action fans wanting something more
What else should I watch?
Since The Transporter took everyone by surprise by being a genuinely exciting action B-movie, the series has slowly gotten slower and fatter until it now resembles a heavily flogged, recently deceased horse. While this film goes utterly mental, Transporter 3 seems almost sedate by comparison as Statham's driver once again gets mixed up with the wrong people (back in France again) who insists that he drives his Audi very fast all over Europe. I can't bring myself to watch The Transporter Refuelled without Statham returning as Frank Martin - his martial-arts are always exciting to watch. Without him, what's the point?
Statham first came to the public's attention in the brilliant crime comedy Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels which allowed him to flex his comedy muscles a touch as well. Together with Guy Ritchie's follow-up Snatch, these Cockney crime capers are still well worth a look today - certainly more so than Statham's lifeless supporting role in The Italian Job remake alongside Mark Wahlberg.
© 2016 Benjamin Cox