Monday, December 05, 2005

Hey, how about a film review: Transporter 2

Jason Stratham is back – and so is His American Accent. That’s right, the second instalment of what seems frighteningly likely to become a franchise has hit our shores: Transporter 2 is here and acting like a badass.

In case you missed the concept the first time around, the premise behind this mindless action adventure is relatively straight forward: you want something transported, you call on Frank Martin (Stratham) to deliver. He’s a professional underworld driver – an expert in his chosen field. In the original movie he becomes unwittingly entangled in a people-smuggling ring after his “package” turns out to be a bundled-up woman. This time, however, he’s graduated to the school run, and has picked up work chauffeuring a young boy (Hunter Clary) – though claiming he’s only filling in for a “friend.”

The film runs a lukewarm in-joke to get things started, with a scene at the school gates echoing a bank-robbery that transpires in its predecessor. By this point we’ve already had a demonstration of Stratham’s macho prowess – single-handedly defending his Audi from a burly gang of car-jackers – so the cute scenes with the kid come as something as a relief. We even get to see the driver’s more sensitive side as he repositions the car to keep the boy from witnessing his folks fighting on the porch.

Things predictably take a turn for the worse. Surprise, surprise, cue the sprog for a kidnapping as his father turns out to be in a position of political power. This serves as the perfect excuse to wheel (excuse me) out a stick-thin psychopathic super-model blonde, toting two silenced machine-pistols and the sheer line from Victoria’s Secret. Mayhem joyfully ensues, complete with martial arts set pieces, ludicrous gun play (you show me a single scientist who can prove a plywood door will stop a round from a high-calibre automatic), and true-Hollywood over-elaborate stunts.

Trouble is I for one actually love this stuff. You know exactly what you’re going to get and – like Stratham’s character – it delivers. Kate Nauta is fun to watch as the blonde with the heavy psychotherapy bill (hey, no doubt the underwear helps), Alessandro Gassman is agreeably swarthy as chief villain, Gianni, and that the kid’s “mom” is the achingly beautiful Amber Valletta smoothes out more of the lumps. And none of the acting is crap – which is saying something for a Stratham movie.

The only really galling aspects are those familiar to most films involving fast cars – the apparent need to make the chase-sequences as unrealistic as possible. I swear there’s even a point where they speed up the footage of a Lamborghini Murcielargo (yeah, that’s right, it is a pretty good run out for VAG’s product line) in an attempt to make it seem quicker – and don’t get me started on the scene with the car bomb. I really can’t figure this out: if it doesn’t look good, get better stunt-drivers.

But all in all it’s an amusing, adrenalin-packed feature. There is a certain repetitiveness – the reappearance of the French police officer (François Berléand) is predictable, for example) – but there’s enough happening on screen to keep most action fans interested. The main man himself is convincingly not someone you’d want to upset in a bar room, whilst sustaining an aura of subtlety with the part that I still can’t quite believe I experienced. It seems even his accent is improving.

Directed by Louis Leterrier, written by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen, Transporter 2 is out in cinemas now – if you act fast you may just still catch it. Just don’t go expecting too much.

Picture: yes, that is a French film poster, but it offers a good montage of images, so I thought, what the hell. Got it from:


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