‘The Transporter 2’ Review

The Transporter 2.  Image courtesy of 20th Century FoxFrance/USA. 92 minutes.
Directed by Louis Leterrier
Screenplay by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen
With Jason Statham, Alessandro Gassman, Amber Valletta, Kate Nauta, Matthew Modine

If you don’t think THE TRANSPORTER 2 rocks, see A SOUND OF THUNDER just before it.

That’s what I did this past Friday, and the snappy pace and refreshingly unpretentious French hybrid was a relief to watch after the disastrously soggy science fiction adaptation. Luc Besson has trained his people well: their aim was to make a fun genre picture, and they succeeded.

As a favor to a friend on vacation, Frank Martin (Jason Statham) takes an atypical job driving a rich family’s son, Jack (Hunter Clary). He listens sympathetically to the boy’s mother, Audrey, (Amber Valletta) complain about her husband (Matthew Modine), director of national drug policy, and his inattention to the family. Quickly Frank becomes a father figure to Jack and a romantic ideal to Audrey.

Happily, dysfunctional family politics are pushed aside when Jack is kidnapped by Lola, a leggy crop-haired blonde (Kate Nauta) striding about in skimpy lingerie and a trenchcoat, and the usual incompetent gang of anonymous trigger-happy underlings.

Lola is the paramour of Gianni (Alessandro Gassman), gangster for hire with an awful accent and a hilariously unbelievable college education. Gianni talks like a low-rent Benicio del Toro with an off-the-shelf vocabulary builder.

Frank is falsely assumed to be conspiring with the kidnappers, but Audrey, of course, Knows The Truth, and tries to help him on the sly. Also feeding him information is the vacationing French police chief Tarconi (Francois Berleand), who provides wry comic relief. Frank rockets around Miami tracking down leads while avoiding both the police and the bad guys.

All of this is giddily entertaining with more than its share of gloriously silly scenes (Frank dislodging a bomb on the undercarriage of his car with a neat move you have to see to disbelieve; Frank chasing down a fleeing bad guy on a jet ski; Frank’s acrobatics to preserve something of value loose on a city street).

The tone is one of mock seriousness mixed with a knowing wink about the outrageous antics on screen, with the highlight probably being the exceedingly clever firehose fight. The martial arts sequences were choreographed and directed by Corey Yuen and are integrated well into the frenetic pace.

That means the whole thing is edited to within an inch of its life; purists won’t be pleased but you might as well complain about the viral-like spread of multiplexes — there ain’t no stopping it. It’s not my preference for how action flicks should be shot, but, still, THE TRANSPORTER 2 was mighty pleasing.

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