|THE TRANSPORTER (2002)|
|Time: 91 mins.|
If you've seen the trailer, you've already been exposed to the best moments of this movie. Since the plot is thinner than air, sitting through the full-length version of the action doesn't really add anything to the experience. Made as a mindless diversion for action junkies, it works on that level. In fact, I had high hopes for the ride after the kick-ass opening sequence. Unfortunately, it's all downhill from there. Once the Transporter begins to break the rules and become a nice human being, there's a serious drop in the coolness factor. Statham plays the Transporter, a man of few words and serious action, who will deliver anything, no questions asked. Except for where, when and how much does it weigh. He lives a quiet comfortable life on the French Riviera until he breaks rule number one. Don't look in the package.
This time around the said bundle contains a quite pretty Asian woman named Lai (Shu). He tries to be nice to her and gets a whole heap of trouble for his pain. It seems the men who kidnapped her aren't pleased to learn that he knows what was in the trunk. Unfortunately for them, their attempt to shut him up permanently only results in pissing him off and his skills run deeper than merely driving a car well. All of this might be vastly more interesting than it is if the film had a better cast and a plot even half as complicated as an episode of MIAMI VICE. Though the action sequences are beautifully shot and choreographed, there's no connection to the characters to make them suspenseful. Statham is the hero, so he's going to win everytime. Period. He looks good shirtless, which is a plus. He's also so consistently outnumbered the fights become dance-like instead of raw action. No matter how well trained a man is, he's not going to be able to take down a dozen well-armed men. These sequences are fairly original, but nothing to race to the cineplex for.
The almost constant fighting also leaves little time for dialogue or character development. Statham has real charisma and though he doesn't say much, he manages to get his point across. As for the other characters, the bad guys, Schulze and Young, are so over-the-top, their performances were more humorous than scary. Shu is lovely to look at and manages to be more than just a damsel in distress. She spends much of the film being carted from one car to another, but still expresses intelligence, humor, spirit and a little dimensionality due to her secret. The reason behind her kidnapping is fairly mundane, however, it gives the story somewhere to go. It's just not complex enough to prop up a 90-minute film. From the trailer, there's no doubt that the action is the film's bread and butter, but a better plot would have gone a long way to making it at all worth watching. The hokey dialogue doesn't help matters. It's so bad it seems like the film was made in another language and translated back into English.
The only positive thing this film accomplishes is giving Jason Statham a leading man role. Hopefully, the next time around, and there should be a next time, he holds out for something that can showcase his acting talent as well as his physical prowess. Maybe he can re-team with Guy Ritchie and come up with a film worth both their time. Action junkies may find some solace here, but for the rest of the viewing audience this will be painful in the extreme.