Film Score: Alexandre Azaria Cinematography: Mitchell Amundsen
Starring: Jason Statham, Amber Valletta, Keith David and François Berléand
Transporter 2 is not better than the original. It is, however, almost as fun. My biggest issue with the film is the direction the franchise is apparently heading, away from a more realistic action/adventure hero toward more of a superhero. In this way Luc Besson has turned the story into something more like The Fifth Element, which I didn’t like very much, especially with the bra-and-panties clad hit woman in high heels. Another aspect that brings the film down a notch, in my opinion, is the move from the European setting of the first film to the United States. It’s a huge disappointment and something that the film never really recovers from.
The sequel has Jason Statham as a babysitter this time out. Filling in for a fellow driver, he takes Hunter Clary to and from school for his rich parents Amber Valletta and Matthew Modine. The couple is having marital problems and Valletta asks Statham to take Clary to his doctor appointment, which he readily agrees to. Meanwhile villain Alessandro Gassman has been delivered an antidote of some kind, which he keeps locked in a vault. At the doctor’s office Gassman’s team of Kate Nauta, Jason Flemyng and Jeff Chase attempt to inject Clary with a virus that will infect Modine, a government official, in the hopes that he will infect the rest of the government. After Statham fights them off at the office, however, they forego their subterfuge and simply kidnap the boy. François Berléand, as the French detective, is in Miami on vacation and Statham enlists his help which gets Berléand arrested, a good thing as it turns out because the police computers have the information Statham needs to stop Gassman in the nick of time.
The one thing this film has over its predecessor, however, is an amazing cast. It’s fantastic to see Valletta again. She really needs to get some more starring roles because she is a captivating presence onscreen. The great Keith David is on hand as the head of the police division involved with the kidnapping. Gassman is a decent villain, but Jason Flemyng is easily the creepiest guy on the screen. Kate Nauta fulfills Besson’s role of the scantily clad blonde who seems infinitely more threatening than Gassman. It’s nice to have François Berléand back again as the laid-back inspector, though the film doesn’t give him a whole lot to do. Modine is easily the worst of the leads, though perhaps that’s a bit harsh. In the end, his is a fairly generic character that could have been played better by a dozen other actors. Statham, however, is reliably solid in his lead role. His fight scenes are well done and believable, and his character’s good-guy ethos is refreshing.
I love Luc Besson and, as far as I’m concerned, any film he’s associated with is worth watching. That said, this is decidedly a lesser effort. One of the most puzzling aspects of the film is how Gassman is portrayed in his opening scenes as an expert fighter who is seen taking on a dozen fighters in combat practice. And yet, when the confrontation finally comes at the end of the film, his skill set seems far less impressive than Statham’s. I mean, the fight wasn’t even close and the outcome is so obvious that it didn’t have a lot of suspense. I would like to have seen Statham get in nearly over his head for once and make the audience squirm a bit. Also, there are a few impossible super-hero moves that, as I said above, edge this film a bit more toward James Bond territory than I’d like. Still, Transporter 2 is an entertaining film for those who enjoyed the first film and Jason Statham’s character. I know I certainly did.