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Transporter 2

Louis Leterrier, France, 2005

Rating: 4.1


Posted: September 19, 2005

Okay, first things first. Before I get into Transporter 2, I got a message for producer/screenwriter Luc Besson, maker of such fine products as La Femme Nikita and the excellent The Professional. Luc: I don't mind giving this movie a good review, because hey, it was good. But fair's fair. I scratch your back, you scratch mine, you know what I'm saying? I think you do. I believe some royalties are in order, because obviously, this Frank Martin character is based on -- okay, inspired by -- yours truly. The kick-ass moves? The bitchin' Audi? The military training? The magnetic charisma and chiseled bod? The bald pate? C'mon, do I need to draw you a map? Have your people get in touch with Shaking Through. I won't be greedy -- a few points on the back end will be fine.

So, yeah, Transporter 2 is a sequel to The Transporter, a modestly successful action flick that came out in 2002. Jason Statham reprises (whatever the hell that means) his role as Frank Martin, an ex-Special Forces operative who ekes out his living as a "transporter" -- a driver who'll take anything anywhere for the right price. When this movie opens, though, he's mostly ferrying a kid back and forth to school as a favor to a friend. This kid is the son of a drug czar played by Matthew Modine, and right away there's a hole in the logic of this thing big enough to drive Frank's kickass Audi through. Namely: Everybody's worried about this kid getting kidnapped, so why doesn't he have armed bodyguards with him at the school?

Whatever. Well, sure enough, some sleazebags are after the kid, and they almost get him when Frank takes Jack to the doctor's office one Saturday morning while his mom -- Amber Valetta, a MILF if ever there was one -- is setting up a surprise birthday party for him. Long story short, there's a firefight with this crazy-ass chick named Lola (Kate Nauta), one thing leads to another, and Jack ends up in the hands of this slimy freelancer named Gianni (Alessandro Gassman), who sends Frank on his way with a bomb strapped to the bottom of his car.

Well, you don't need a PhD in screenwriting to know that Frank doesn't blow up. No, he gets his Denzel Washington on (I'm talkin' some Man on Fire payback), and sets off to track down little Jack and the bad guys. He has to do so on the down-low, since it's been made to look like he was in on the abduction. The only person who believes he's innocent is the hot mom, partly because she threw herself at him the night before, although Frank was too gentlemanly to take advantage of a married woman when she's drunk. Anyway, the rest of the film is a slam-bang pinball game of chases, collisions and fight scenes. Even after the parents get Jack back safe and sound, Frank's still on the case, because the little guy's been injected with a deadly virus (of course).

I gotta tell you, Statham does a damn fine job as Frank, a man of few words with the unflinching poise of classic Eastwood. But the real star of Transporter 2 is the stunt team. Whether it's a car flying through the air from one parking garage to another, or a chase scene involving a school bus and a jet ski, or a climactic ass-whuppin' contest aboard a plane with a dead pilot, spiraling to a watery grave, Transporter 2 packs a ton of hearty (if somewhat implausible) thrills, and pulls it off nice. And then there are the expertly choreographed fight scenes, a brutal ballet of cracking limbs and callisthenic contortions that would do Jackie Chan or that Ong-Bak dude proud.

I went and rented The Transporter -- just in case there were any, you know, subtle nuances to Frank Martin's character I needed to be up to speed on in order to fully appreciate the sequel. And that was fun, but Transporter 2 blows it out of the water every which way but loose. It's a perfect date movie. Guys will dig on the balls-to-the-wall action (not to mention Amber Valetta and the crazy killer nurse chick, even if she's a little too heroine-chic skinny for my tastes), and trust me, the ladies will appreciate Jason Statham's chiseled physique and hold on to you tight during the action bits. Having worked on a few action movies myself, I can tell you, it's top-notch. Now, Luc, baby -- let's talk residuals, eh?

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 Clemenza's Ratings Key:

 5.0: A drop of bliss

 4.0-4.9: Touchdown!
 3.0-3.9: Close, but...
 2.0-2.9: Box of Rocks
 1.1-1.9: Time bandit
 0.0-1.0: Soul scarring
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