My first thought after seeing the original film was, “wow, that was quite cool.” My only thought after seeing this sequel is, “wow, that was stupid.” Not dumb. Dumb doesn’t know any better. Stupid is deliberate. Someone intentionally gave the green light to this screenplay, and I hate them for it.
The start of the film is actually quite promising: a fight scene in a garage re-introduces us to Frank (Jason Statham) as he deals with a gang of car jackers who have the temerity to tackle his pristine Audi. Good fun. His current job has him acting as chauffeur for the son of an important US government official. In taking the kid to a doctor’s appointment, Frank promises that he won’t let him come to any harm (I can sympathise with the fear of needles). The bad guys (inevitably) attempt to harm him, and Frank rescues the kid in spectacular fashion. Good use of an oxygen cylinder. But holy crap does it go downhill from there.
There’s this thing called suspension of disbelief, see. For the purposes of watching some entertaining action, I’m willing to put aside the fact that I have a degree in physics, and just roll with the heroic stunts and intricate set-pieces. An action hero should be tough, and I want to see them take more of a beating than an ordinary human could withstand. I want to see them punch villains so hard they fly through windows, and drive cars so radically that a fleet of cops can’t catch them. That’s good. But there are moments in this film that can only be explained by the fact that Frank, The Transporter, is, in fact, a superhero. He has driving superpowers. Perhaps he was run over by a radioactive 5-series when he was a kid. I dunno.
The first film was interesting because in addition to the external conflict between the bad guys and the good guys, Frank was also dealing with an internal conflict: he is a man bound by rules he has imposed upon himself, yet his sense of honour forces him to break those rules. That’s where the heart of the first movie lay. The car chases and fight scenes were excellent (the one with the oil in the garage is particularly memorable), but they were the seasoning on an already perfectly cooked steak.
In Transporter 2 Frank is, to all intents and purposes, invulnerable, invincible, and immune from self-doubt. Even his fucking car doesn’t run a single scratch, despite crashing it through concrete barriers and using steel scaffolding for brakes. In the first film he got mad about the damage to his Beamer. Here, there is nothing. No emotion, no interest. No soul.
The villain’s plan to infect the kid’s father (important government official, remember) with a virus, is stupid. There must be thousands of ways to target a public figure with a deadly virus, yet he chooses the riskiest and least certain one. He also has no intention of providing the antidote to any of the infected parties, so why does he have it around in the first place? Answers: a) so that Frank has something to chase after, and b) he’s stupid. And the plane crash? OH MY GOD MY HEAD JUST EXPLODED.
I’m dead. The only reason my ghost has returned to write this is to rant about one final piece of unforgiveable dreadfulness: the villain’s prowess as a martial artist. In his introduction scene, he is shown practicing kendo, and he is clearly a world-class swordsman. Action movie logic dictates therefore that the hero and the villain must end up battling it out with sticks and swords and anything else long and pointy they can break loose from their immediate surroundings. But does either of them pick up any weapon other than a gun before the credits roll? No. Bad film, no donut.
The only reason I’m giving it half a star is for the fight scene with the hose pipe. That was pretty cool. But not worth sitting through the rest of the movie, especially seeing as I’M DEAD NOW.