TRANSPORTER 2 (9/2/2005)
Director: Louis Leterrier
Cast: Jason Statham, Alessandro Gassman, Amber Valletta

My Rating: 6/10
Rotten Tomatometer: 51%

PLOT: An extremely skilled mercenary driver (Statham) is implicated in the kidnapping of the young son of a powerful U.S. drug official.

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When an action film includes a shot of the good guy flipping his car off a ramp so that a dangling crane hook can clip off a bomb stuck underneath the car mere SECONDS before it goes off, you either laugh and roll with it or scoff and leave the theater. For better or worse…I laughed.

“Transporter 2” is an example of a movie not really intended for American audiences. From top to bottom, this is a European action movie, made in the States with the kind of budget unknown in foreign studios. It was produced by none other than Luc Besson, director of cult classics like “Léon” (aka “The Professional”) and “The Fifth Element.” Here he farms out directing duties to Louis Leterrier, a genre specialist known for Jet Li’s “Unleashed”, the original “Transporter”, and, later on, an honest-to-God entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “The Incredible Hulk.”

This movie is utter junk food. It aspires to the kind of delirious cartoonish heights that would later be achieved by “Shoot ‘Em Up” (2007), but it fails due to too many breaks in the action. And if you have too many breaks in a movie that’s barely 80 minutes long, something has gone wrong at the screenplay level. In a movie like this, adding depth of character just gets in the way of the action.

The action itself, while mildly interesting visually, is too sparse. There’s an extended fight scene in a basement that’s imaginative and well done, making creative use of a fire hose. There’s a one-sided gun battle in a doctor’s office. The lone car chase in the film sees the infamous building-to-building car jump from “Lethal Weapon 2” and raises it. And, of course, the bomb-removing flip to a crane. (I can’t even discuss the finale aboard a plummeting private jet without wincing.)

Other than that, not much here, folks. For me, this is an all-too-obvious guilty pleasure, something to toss into the player and jack the volume up so the gunshots and thumping bass rattle the walls. The absurdity of the action allows the movie to flirt with camp classic status, but I usually just fast-forward to the parts where stuff gets blowed up real good.

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