**1/2 (out of 5)
September 2, 2005
Jason Statham as FRANK MARTIN
Alessandro Gassman as GIANNI
Amber Valletta as AUDREY BILLINGS
Katie Nauta as LOLA
Matthew Modine as MR. BILLINGS
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Directed by: Louis Leterrier
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
I love Road Runner cartoons. They have no plot, and they have no redeeming value. They’re just slapstick, silly cartoon violence at its best. The new film “Transporter 2” seems to have been made as a live-action version of one of these cartoons.
The story itself is a little shaky. Ex-special forces operative Frank Martin (Jason Statham) has taken a job as a chauffeur to a rich family’s son. However, when the kid is targeted to be kidnapped, Frank uses his special skills to track him down and bring justice to the kidnappers.
This sequel is directed by Louis Leterrier, who served as artistic director for the original “The Transporter.” Not having seen the original, I can’t say whether this was a faithful sequel or not. I’ve never been a huge fan of Luc Besson, after his dreadful sci-fi mess “The Fifth Element.” So, there’s no love lost for me if I didn’t like “Transporter 2.”
When everything’s boiled down, I’m conflicted on this film. On one hand, I liked the ridiculous action and completely unbelievable stunts. I also liked Jason Statham as the slick thug. The guy’s not a great actor. He’s a classy, less buffed-up Vin Diesel, and let’s leave it at that.
On the other hand, I have to say this is one of the silliest movies I’ve ever seen. I like a good unbelievable stunt as much as the next guy. Heck, the entire James Bond franchise is based on this. But some of the stunts that are seen in “Transporter 2” are so over-the-top that it completely trumps Bond-level stunts like parachuting off the Eiffel Tower, flipping a car over a river and landing on the wheels and wind surfing on an avalanche.
Once “Transporter 2” really gets rolling and the kidnapping happens, the character pulls off such a ludicrous stunt that not even high-octane action audiences bought it. He drives his car off a pier, flips it in the air and manages to strike his undercarriage against a crane arm, thus dislodging a car bomb moments before it erupts. In the theater during my screening, this stunt was met with hysterical laughter rather than oohs and ahs.
Of course, this silly shot set the bar for the rest of the film. After that, anything was possible. In a strange way, this helped the movie because if you can make it past the kidnapping, you’d make it through anything else the movie threw at you.
Come to think of it, maybe this was their plan all along.
Aside from Statham as Frank Martin, the rest of the cast is disposable. Matthew Modine is slumming it as the father of the kidnapped child. Alassandro Gassman plays the villain, who is supposed to be sexy, I guess. However, he just comes across as oily and annoying.
Amber Valetta, last seen in “Hitch,” does an okay job as the grieving mom, but she looks awful. However, she’s a goddess compared to Katie Nauta as the psychotic hitwoman Lola. Nauta spends most of the film prancing around in her underwear, which normally wouldn’t be a problem. However, Nauta is so gaunt and thin that she makes Snoop Dogg look like Ruben Studdard. It’s actually quite sickening, if you ask me.
Ultimately, “Transporter 2” falls into that category of films that is exactly what you’d expect. If you like wild action pictures that are really nothing more than a ninety minute car commercial, you should enjoy this. If you’re expecting anything more from “Transporter 2,” you need some serious professional help.