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Transporter 2

Reviewed By David Cornelius
Posted 01/07/06 22:26:17

"To call this movie stupid might be an insult to stupid people."
1 stars (Sucks)

This is my second time reviewing “Transporter 2.” Here’s my original review, in its entirety: “I’m pretty sure ‘Transporter 2’ is the dumbest movie I’ve ever seen. Yup. I’m pretty damn sure. And I’ve seen a lot of dumb movies.” (The middle, redundant sentence, by the way, was added only to make the review fit within the layout of this website.) Naturally, you can see why a few people have asked me to elaborate. So here goes…

When I called “Transporter 2” the “dumbest movie I’ve ever seen,” this was not some cutesy bit of playful hyperbole, like when you find a silly video of Adam West dancing to dopey music and you email it to all your friends with the subject heading “funniest thing EVER!” No, dear reader, “Transporter 2” is very well the stupidest motion picture I can recall seeing. Not the worst - oh, no, it’s not the worst by many a mile - but far and away the dumbest. This is a movie that reads as if it were written by a seventh grade boy, one who’s not doing particularly well in any of his classes.

It’s either that, or the result of a demanding producer spouting out crazed instructions during a coke binge, like Jon Peter’s now-legendary “I want a giant spider!” rants. (Those unfamiliar with this reference should rent “An Evening With Kevin Smith” and fast forward to the filmmaker’s story on his dealings with a drug-crazed Peters.) I can see the production meetings now: there’s producer/co-writer Luc Besson, ranting on and on about how cool it would be if a car could have a bomb placed under it, so the driver would have to do a mid-air flip, hook the bomb onto a crane hanging overhead, then drive off to safety while the crane blows up real good. There he is, babbling about how he needs to see a car jump from one third-floor parking garage to another. Why, I can even see him yelling at his longtime collaborator and co-writer Robert Mark Kamen that yes he will have a female assassin who runs around in her underwear all the time, because, and I quote, “Dude, man! Dude!!” Or the French equivalent thereof.

The point of “Transporter 2,” even moreso than the original “Transporter,” is to have action so wildly over-the-top that of course it’s not serious, it is instead just an excuse to churn out some exciting action sequences and fight scenes. But in doing so, Besson and director Louis Leterrier (who both recently made the far superior “Unleashed”) seem to have forgotten how to make the action scenes fun. There’s no joy to be found in any of this mindless energy, the kind of thrills one gets from watching, say, a Jackie Chan flick. Maybe this is because Jason Statham, the star of both “Transporter” films, is so lifeless at all times that he’s incapable of making action frivolity work. Or maybe it’s because Leterrier is compelled to cram his film with so much ridiculousness (right down to the overplayed Russian accents and a hilariously awful turn by Matthew Modine as a beleaguered power-that-be) that the whole mess collapses under its own weight. It’s one thing to make an action movie ridiculous. But when the audience has to guess if your movie is terrible or “intentionally brainless,” you’ve done something horribly wrong.

Maybe it would have worked had the filmmakers not tried to hard to look so serious in between all the fight scenes. The plot (which, for those keeping score, finds professional driver Frank Martin tangled in a plot that involves kidnapping, a Colombian drug lord, and a deadly mega-virus - don’t ask) keeps taking breaks from scenes like the one where the lingerie model and the ugly Russian guys shoot up a doctor’s office so it can show Frank wooing the kidnapped boy’s mother (Amber Valletta) or other bits of downtime that are meant to work as some sort of character development (and, after that, intense high drama). This is a movie that wants to work in an actual story in between its thrills, but since it’s also a movie that has that seventh-grader-wrote-it feel, the actual story is immature and embarrassing.

You could argue that none of this matters, because the action scenes are cool. Except, well, they’re not. Statham is no Jackie Chan, or Tony Jaa, or Jet Li, or any other action star who wows with a simple move. He is instead just a big, boring, dopey English guy who can maneuver well enough to put together a fight scene in which he beats a gang with a fire hose, a moment that sounds far cooler than it turns out. At this rate, Statham is on his way to becoming the new Steven Segal: he can do the moves, fine, but we just don’t care.

The rest of the “super-cool action stuff” is overloaded with car porn - like the first movie, “Transporter 2” is designed for guys who get sexually aroused at the sight of a decked-out automobile. The film spends so much time drooling over Frank’s car that it gets a little weird, as if we should probably leave the room so the film can be alone with Frank’s car for a while. Runner-up to the car fetish is the gun fetish, and then the skinny lingerie model fetish. Like I said, it’s a movie with a junior high mentality.

When I first saw “Transporter 2,” I walked out halfway through (right around the time we see the car flip/crane/bomb/explosion bit). The other two people in the theater were laughing as loudly as my wife and I were, and we figured life is too short to waste watching a movie this unbelievably stupid. At the request of some friends who actually liked the film, I sucked it up and caught it a second time, this time sticking around for the whole thing. It wasn’t as funny on the repeat go - mostly, it was all too humiliating for the filmmakers. But it turns out I was right. Life is indeed too short for movies like this, too stupid to be a good movie, too limp to be an enjoyable one.

And yes, it really is the dumbest movie I’ve ever seen.

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