The Transporter 2 (2005)

Rating: ***
Release Date: 9/2/05
Written And Produced By: Luc Besson
Second Unit Director: Corey Yuen Kwei
Martial Arts Choreography: Corey Yuen Kwei
Cast: Jason Statham, Alessandro Gassman, Amber Valletta, Kate Nauta

Who would have thought "The Transporter" (2002) would spawn a sequel? Actually, it's about as much of a sequel as a James Bond film, in that it's just another story featuring the same character. This time around, professional courier Frank Martin (super cool Jason Statham) has been hired as a chauffeur for the son of a wealthy man. When the boy gets targeted and kidnapped by the villainous Gianni (Alessandro Gassman) and his ridiculous henchmen, Frank vows to rescue him. What follows is a non-stop action thrill ride as Frank jumps, kicks, punches, and drives his way through wave after wave of bad guys until he reaches his goal.

As you might expect, the plot is incidental and completely absurd, but Jason Statham's strong presense, cool persona, and understated performance makes the whole thing work. Thanks to Corey Yuen's suberb choreography, the fight scenes are spectacular and brutal, suffering only from tight, jerky camera work and choppy editing. The driving stunts and chases are also nicely done and quite exciting. Unfortunately, outrageous special effects nearly ruin an otherwise excellent action film, and tax the viewer's patience and suspension of disbelief. The film also represents a collection of missed opportunities, and does a brilliant job of setting situations up and not following through on them. The biggest disappointment of all is when the film establishes that Gianni is an expert at kendo, but then he never gets to fight so what's the point? I kept looking forward to an excellent hand to hand showdown between him and Frank, and it never came. Instead, we're served a silly and insulting climax that takes place aboard a private jet. Ho-hum.

Frank's inspector friend from the first film shows up to provide some comedic relief, and while he's mildly amusing, the film's other attempts at humor fall painfully flat. Kate Nauta provides some eye candy (and lots of smeared eye makeup) as an over-the-top psychotic gun chick, but she's so ridiculous that you can't take her seriously. If they had played down her character and actually given her a decent fight scene, she would have been much more engaging. The absurd plot is eerily reminiscent of another style-over-substance action film, "Mission: Impossible - 2" (2000) in both the story mechanics and its complete implausibility. Fortunately, the lapses in reason and sanity are framed by some very nice action sequences, and despite its failings, I found the film immensely fun and entertaining. It's far better than the last two James Bond outings, and Jason Statham could build an entire career around his Frank Martin persona. I, for one, hope that he does.