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Transporter2 (7/10)

by Tony Medley

If you’re looking at this as a serious action film, this is a really stupid movie, the genre I loathe, full of special effects, idiotic fight scenes with one guy, Frank Martin (Jason Statham), taking on scores of armed men and defeating them without so much as a scratch, bullets flying out of automatic weapons hitting everything but Frank, etc., etc., etc. You’ve seen one you’ve seen ‘em all.

If you look at it as a serious action piece, it is truly imbecilic. But if you’re looking for a comedy, this might be your cup of tea. In fact, the screening seemed packed with shills who laughed at lines as they (the shills) were scripted, telegraphing to the rest of the audience that this was not a tense, action film, but a parody.

Frank is an admirable deadpan hero, emotionless like Bill Murray. Contrasted with Murray, however, Frank’s emotionless personality is funny, considering everything he goes through. You never have to worry about anything bad happening to him. You never have to worry about anything bad happening to the good guys. There’s no suspense in this. The bad guys are defined at the beginning. Frank is really the only person who matters on the good guy side, although Audrey Billings (Amber Valleta) has the hots for Frank, even though she’s married to Jefferson Billings (Matthew Bodine), who is a not very likeable husband and father, and who happens to be the American government’s drug czar.

The bad guys are the over the top Lola (Kate Nauta), who is a homicidal maniac, and her boss, Gianni (Alessandro Gassman). Gianni is a cold-blooded bad guy. The weakness of the film, even as a comedy, is the bad guys. Although Lola is insane and loves to shoot at people (I don’t believe she hits many, maybe a few policemen) in her underwear. She actually strips off her clothes so she can gallivant around in her undies. Alas, she’s so skinny that it’s not very titillating to watch her cavort. As to Gianni, he’s not scary at all. I’ve seen much better portrayals of bad guys in other films who really scared you, like Al Pacino in “Scarface” (1983). Even more recently, Cillian Murphy in both “Batman Returns” and “Red Eye,” gives a much more chilling performance than Gassman.

The script (Luc Besson and Steven Chasman) is replete with tongue-in-cheek lines à la the earlier James Bond films, which were funny when delivered by Sean Connery. Subsequent Bonds didn’t have his mystique or charisma. While Statham has lots of deadpan lines that are funny, his buddy, Tarconi (François Berléand), provides consistent comic relief, up to, and including, his wild dress.

Except for the tongue-in-cheek comedy, this movie is nothing but special effects (since Frank is a driver, ergo the movie’s title, there are lots and lots and lots of car chases with results that are so implausible they are funny), impossible situations and ridiculous martial arts. There really isn’t much of a story. The Billings’ son is kidnapped and it’s up to Frank to get him back and solve the mystery of why, all the while being pursued by the cops. Due to the automatic weapons and silly martial arts, there is a lot of violence, and it’s the kind of violence that can numb the mind to actual pain and suffering.

Forget the story, enjoy the action and some of the lines, and you’ll spend a relatively entertaining 88 minutes. That’s what I did.

August 30, 2005