Transporter 2

(Louis Leterrier, USA/France, 2005)


Jason Statham is in the Steven Seagal tradition of action stars: although he looks great and moves well, he has to compensate for his lack of natural acting skill by passing off his woodenness as a sign of hardboiled character.

Taking a cue from the Denzel Washington vehicle Man on Fire (2004), Transporter 2 (sequel to The Transporter [2002]) casts Frank (Statham) as a driver for a victimised woman, Audrey (Amber Valletta), and her cute son, Jack (Hunter Clary). Frank's idea of how to talk to a kid is to offer a running lesson on the 'rules' that are bound to ensure one's survival in a tough fix.

Things indeed get tough when Jack is kidnapped by a team of criminals led by Gianni (Alessandro Gassman), the kind of elegant villain who prides himself on his perfect syntax and diction. The ace in his pack is Lola (Kate Nauta), never caught without her black eyeliner make-up on, and able to derive an erotic thrill from the most violent confrontations.

This is a simple but efficient film that keeps all its ingredients on the boil throughout. Director Louis Leterrier (whose Unleashed appeared in the same year) works with Hong Kong's veteran action choreographer Cory Yuen to ensure many enjoyably fanciful fights, chases and stunts. The emotion lacking from Statham's performance is re-injected into Matthew Modine's expert turn as Audrey's estranged and eternally pissed-off husband, Jefferson.

Producer and co-writer Luc Besson – moving ever closer to penetration of the American market – sticks to his usual formula: a glossy look, glamorous locations, a few moments of sadism, a dash of sentiment and, last but not least, some comedy, here provided by François Berléand (Romance, 1999) as Tarconi, a relaxed but ingenious cop on Frank's side.

MORE Besson: Joan of Arc, Taxi, Léon: The Professional, The Fifth Element

© Adrian Martin September 2005

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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