Monday, February 11, 2013

Son of a bitch can drive

Transporter 2 (2005)
Considering how much I enjoyed the first Transporter, it's completely bizarre that I never saw this in the theater.  Could have something to do with the then recent addition of my daughter to the family, or perhaps it just didn't look that thrilling from the previews.  I've heard mixed to negative things, but hopefully should at least be entertaining.

The movie started off very strongly, I liked how Frank interacted with Random Cute Kid, he didn't annoy me as much as most kid actors do (he was certainly a better actor than either of the villains in the first Transporter), and it seemed that we might actually do a little character development.  That promise held for the first half of the movie or so, but then we unfortunately went into Over the Top Land.

Over the Top Land bears a little explanation.  That's the all too common failing of sequels, especially action ones, where they feel the need to out-do the previous ones.  Bigger isn't always better, sometimes it's just bigger.  Here we turn Statham into a near superhuman, have him do completely crazy stuff like intentionally ramp his car off a corkscrew jump so he can knock the bomb on the underside of his car loose by scraping it off on a construction crane hook.  Yeah.  I know plausibility isn't the main thrust of the average action movie, but ironically that's what made the first Transporter play so well.  While it didn't have a plot and the bad guys were reluctant to actually kill Statham, it actually followed a logical sequence and the majority of action sequences were perfectly plausible.  Okay, maybe you can't catch up to a speeding truck in a parachute, but on the whole it wasn't at all distracting.  Statham was methodical and controlled.  Here he does shit like jump up in the air to avoid two oncoming cars by letting them head-on into each other, then lightly jumps down on the resulting heap.  I'm not even going to get into the issues around the whole deadly-plague-released-into-the-public crap.

In the process, we lost track of what made the first one work so well:  The character.  Frank Martin is a pretty interesting guy, Statham is wonderfully compelling to watch on screen, and has consistently shown he can carry a lead role just by showing up.  He does stay in character throughout this, but I'd have much rather just watched him in a different situation doing what he does best, than turn him into something beyond even Rambo.  I think they lost track of what Statham does best.  Be himself.  The action is great, but only if there's a character study to back it up, otherwise it's just shit blowing up for the sake of shit blowing up.

I was likewise disappointed François wasn't used to good effect at all.  Still love the actor and was very excited to see his name in the credits, but he's woefully underutilized here and better than anyone shows the issues with the tone in this movie.  He's tossed in for comic relief here and we lose all of the quiet, sly awesomeness of the first.  He's entertaining enough, but he might as well have not been in the movie which is a serious missed opportunity.

Badassery Quotient - 11
Unfortunately hard to call it any other way.  Take the Transporter and crank it up beyond the point of believability.  Plenty of guns, cars, improbable combat sequences, and all around craziness.  A good example where higher BQ does not equal higher quality.

Rewatchability - Rarely
I could see popping this in again and perhaps it wouldn't be quite as jarring the next time around.  It's a perfectly fine movie to shut off your brain and watch shit blow up, it's just not all that memorable.  I'd be comfortable recommending it to someone with that caveat in mind.

Up next - London.  I know nothing about this one, but completely bizarre that it has Statham, Chris Evans, and Jessica Biel together again. 

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