By Brian Rentschler
Short version: Ridiculously over the top, but still enjoyable.
I wasn’t sure what to think of this movie. At first, I was tempted to give it one star out of a possible five. After all, the movie has a very thin storyline. Most of the stunts revolve around events that are pure luck, physically impossible or both. The acting isn’t even that great. Amber Valletta does the best acting job in this movie; what does that tell you? Still, even after considering all the downsides to this movie, there was one simple fact that I couldn’t escape: I enjoyed the movie. Call it escapist, call it a guilty pleasure, whatever. I walked out of the theater remarking, “That was cool!” A little silly in spots? Yep. All the laws of physics violated during the action scenes? Oh yeah. Ridiculously over the top? Absolutely. But so help me, I enjoyed it.
I only saw part of the original Transporter, but I feel confident saying that it’s not necessary to see the original to enjoy the sequel. Frank Martin (played by Jason Statham) is still a driver, but now he lives in Miami, and he’s a driver/mentor to a little boy named Jack Billings (played by Hunter Clary). Jack happens to be the son of America’s newly-appointed drug czar, Jefferson Billings (played by Matthew Modine), but that’s where the good times end. Jefferson has had very little contact with his son, and his marriage to his wife Audrey (played by Amber Valletta) is seriously on the rocks. Luckily for Jack, he has Frank as a father figure. They’re bestest buddy pals. All together now: Awwwwww… Now here’s a tough pop quiz: What must inevitably happen when a butt-kicking tough guy with a heart of gold starts to bond with a little boy who’s like a son to him?
Of course, all the groundwork has been laid for a kidnapping. That part was not surprising to me; what really surprised me was how utterly ridiculous it all was. Frank takes Jack to a doctor’s appointment, but unbeknownst to him, some bad guys have shown up first. After several minutes of “doctors” mixing up their names and stories, Frank starts to get suspicious. After bursting into the waiting room, he just barely manages to stop Jack from getting injected with a very unsavory concoction. At that point, the fake doctors and fake receptionist become very cranky, and the amount of ammunition they unload is enough to make Charlton Heston a staunch advocate of gun control. Despite all the ammo and enough explosions to gut the place, Frank and Jack make it out alive. Such is the suspension of disbelief required to properly enjoy this movie.
As it turns out, the baddies work for someone named Gianni (played by Alessandro Gassman), and the fake receptionist is his woman, Lola (played by Kate Nauta). Before Frank can get Jack through the gate of his house, Lola hijacks the car and tells Frank to start driving. After a series of ridiculously over the top chase scenes, they end up at the dock, where Jack is kidnapped and Frank barely escapes with his life. At that point, Frank dedicates every waking moment of his life to finding Jack and getting him home safely to his mother. As luck would have it, Frank has a friend named Tarconi (played by Francois Berleand) who is conveniently able to access the police database. Using that information, he starts tracking the bad guys down one by one. More ridiculously over-the-top action scenes take place, although I must say that I really enjoyed the scene where Frank takes out something like a dozen bad guys with little more than a fire hose. Even Jackie Chan isn’t that resourceful most of the time.
By this point, the police are involved. (I want to take this opportunity to point out that Keith David’s role as a police detective is a total waste of his tremendous talents.) Everyone is caught by surprise when the police suddenly find Jack in a van, apparently safe and unharmed. But Frank isn’t fooled, oh no no no! He quickly finds out that there’s far more to Gianni’s sinister plot than just the kidnapping of a little boy, which leads to the line you always hear in the commercials and previews: “This is more than just a kidnapping.” There are so many questions at this point. Will Frank save the day without getting his suit wrinkled? Will the bad guys get what’s coming to them? Will a myriad of complications develop to make it ten times harder for Frank to deliver his intended butt-kicking to the bad guys? Will it involve lots of action scenes that range from implausible to downright physically impossible? (As an example, there’s a scene where Frank dodges bullets. Didn’t we see The Matrix already?) It boggles the mind.
Despite all the silliness and suspension of disbelief, the movie was still quite enjoyable. It entertained me and put a smile on my face, which is more than I can say for most of the movies out there right now. It’s a great popcorn flick; if you go in with appropriate expectations, you might just enjoy it.