Most blockbuster action films, astonishingly hedonistic and unrealistic as they are, inevitably become spoiled by a sense of self-imposed seriousness ? most likely according to the flawed logic ?If we don?t take ourselves seriously, no one else will!?
Transporter 2 is not one of those films.
Transporter 2 is the sequel to 2002?s cult action movie The Transporter. Jason Statham, better known as the really cool English guy from Snatch and The Italian Job, stars in both movies as an ex-military commando who is now a professional transporter ? a driver for hire who will move your wares, whatever they may be, without question.
In the first movie, Frank Martin (Statham) uncovers a human trafficking operation in Monaco after one of his deliveries turns out to be a young Chinese woman who tried to blow the whistle on the bad guys. Martin gets involved, despite the strict rules to which he holds himself, and saves the day. At the start of Transporter 2, he has relocated to Miami from the equally beautiful south of France. He?s also broadened his career horizons, and is filling the role of a family chauffeur for the young son of the government?s new drug czar.
The plot of Transporter 2 is laughably complex and frankly isn?t really worth explaining in detail. It involves a virus weaponized by ex-Soviets and an international drug conference in Miami; you can piece the rest together on your own. Once again, Frank Martin gets drawn into a conflict he really has no business in, and kicks liberal amounts of ass along the way.
And that is really the crux of the matter; both The Transporter and Transporter 2 are absolutely ridiculous action movies. Corey Yuen, who has been a fight choreographer in various forms for dozens of action and martial-arts movies since 1976 (including Jackie Chan?s Drunken Master, Lethal Weapon 4, X-Men, and The One), developed a distinct visual and kinetic style for the fight scenes in both Transporter movies. The action is fast and rigid, and in keeping with Statham?s character, completely professional and unflinching. There?s never even a hint of uncertainty in Statham?s movement, which makes the fight scenes that much more enjoyable to watch. In Transporter 2, for instance, Statham spends an entire fight repelling a seemingly endless stream of thugs with a fire hose ? admittedly not an original idea, as martial arts aficionados will point out ? without even pulling a knife.
Even more than the fighting, though, the star of Transporter 2 is Jason Statham?s gorgeous and amazing Audi A8 W12. The film opens with a sweeping shot of the car, zooming in close on the oversized Audi logo emblazoned on the front end. One can almost hear the director: ?Yes, this film is a giant ad. Yes, we?re comfortable with that. No, it doesn?t really matter.? The car chases are well worth the ?incidental? brand exposure, as it?s one of the most ridiculous, tongue-in-cheek movie moments of the summer. I won?t spoil it for you; let?s just say that Statham uses a healthy dose of creativity to get himself, and his car, out of a sticky situation.
That tongue-in-cheek ridiculousness is probably, in the end, the only thing keeping The Transporter series afloat. Whereas other hyped-up Hollywood action movies bombed this summer (The Island and Stealth both made approximately a tenth of their production cost back in their opening weekends), Transporter 2 made two-thirds of its cost back in one of the hardest weekends in showbiz, breaking Labor Day box office records. The key to the film?s success is that it doesn?t take itself too seriously. Movies are entertainment. Not all of them have to be permanently life-altering Oscar hopefuls. Sometimes moviegoers just want to watch some guys get totally owned and a few buildings blown up.
You should know if you?re one of those moviegoers. If you?re looking for a quick mindless release before the school year ramps up, or if you just really enjoy Audis and/or British guys in suits, you are probably the kind of person who needs to spend an afternoon down at the Waterfront watching Transporter 2.