TRANSPORTER 2 (Louis Leterrier, 2005)
Jason Statham returns as ex-Special Forces operative Frank Martin in TRANSPORTER 2. An elite fighter and driver, his current job shuttling a wealthy family’s son to school and the doctor’s office might seem like an underutilization of his talents. The boy’s father is a top government drug agency official, which means the youngster is a natural target for abduction by bad, bad people. Frank unwittingly enters a trap and loses the kid, which leads to the authorities considering him the prime suspect in the kidnapping. Having promised to protect the boy and wishing to clear his name, Frank hunts for the abductors while dodging the cops.
With this year’s UNLEASHED and TRANSPORTER 2, Louis Leterrier demonstrates that he’s an up-and-coming director of action films. He understands where to put the camera and how long to hold shots so the audience can follow the action. TRANSPORTER 2 uses quick edits but not so quick that the action becomes abstract. A great example is the tour de force fight scene in and around a boat. As in UNLEASHED’S bathroom fight, Leterrier proves himself an expert in depicting hand-to-hand combat in small spaces, in this case using tight camerawork and bone-crunching sound effects editing to heighten the impact.
Corey Yuen, who directed the first TRANSPORTER, choreographs the martial arts again. Like its predecessor, TRANSPORTER 2 boasts creative and witty fight scenes that play like live-action cartoons. Frank makes excellent use of available items. He pursues a bus on a jet ski (on the highway, no less), takes down a room full of thugs with a fire hose, and uses melons as improvised boxing gloves. It’s all pretty silly stuff—look no further than the lingerie clad, raccoon-eyed villainess with a fondness for automatic weapons or a preposterous battle in a tail spinning plane—but as pure action filmmaking, TRANSPORTER 2 is exhilarating.
Statham cuts an imposing figure and exhibits a knack for various fighting styles. His dry, straightforward performance is the perfect anchor for a film so over the top. TRANSPORTER 2 bursts with outrageous driving stunts, sublimely absurd fight scenes, and a sense of humor that ties it together.