Tuesday, September 06, 2005

It Came from the Multiplex: Transporter 2

I’ve often stated my antipathy for the modern, elephantine, MTV-directing styled action film. I hope to see the breed retrench a bit and come to reflect more of a ‘70s-type low key idea of action. Luckily, there are signs of this happening to some extent, such as John Singleton’s Shaft and the Bourne films. Still, it’s been a year or two since I went to see a really stupid, inane, overblown action flick. So I thought I’d take a flyer on The Transporter 2.

I’d seen the first Transporter movie, and didn’t remember much about it—but then, it’s the sort of film designed to be that way—except for a neat fight where the hero sloshed a lot of oil all over and slip around beating up like a dozen guys. Past that, and knowing that he illegally ‘transported’ things for a living, I can’t say much stuck with me.

The opening of the sequel, oddly enough, seems ripped off from Man on Fire, only with Jason Statham as a gruff ex-special forces guy driving around a young boy rather than Denzel Washington’s gruff ex-special forces guy driving around a slightly older Dakota Fanning. As in that film, the kid is kidnapped, and the hero goes to get her back. (Actually, Man on Fire goes in a slightly different direction than that, but the earlier parts of both films remain highly similar.)

The kidnapping turns out to be but part of an epically moronic and ridiculous scheme to assassinate a zillion guys, and had the film not simply ignored it’s own set-up when it came time to end the movie, it would have logically featured the deaths of thousands, or tens or hundreds of thousands or even more. But…it didn’t so never mind.

Of course, nobody expects logic in a film like this, and here such viewer expectations are completely met. The villains are cartoonishly violent, of course, and the film’s Hot Chick is a painfully thin model in underwear—and by that I mean that pretty much what she wears throughout the entire movie—who is constantly emptying her two laser-sighted machine pistols into anything that moves.

[On a side note, it’s obvious that this is a fetish of the director, Luc Besson. For instance, his movie Fifth Element featured a similarly wafer thin Milla Jovovich (also Besson's wife), who like the nearly naked woman here, spent much of the film wearing but a few straps that covered only the most essential portions of her body.

The reason I note this is that Besson also directed The Professional, in which an eleven year-old Natalie Portman spent some part of the movie wearing a wife-beater T-shirt with her nipples noticeably protruding. I was more than a little weirded out by that at the time, and now that I’ve noticed Besson’s predilection for women with exaggeratedly ‘girlish,’ nearly breastless figures…well, I’m not any less discomforted, let’s put it that way.]

The fight scenes are pretty good, along the lines of b-level Jackie Chan stuff. One fight takes place in a plane that is tumbling around in the air, and the camera follows the fighters as they roll up the walls and floor and ceiling of the plane, an obvious nod to the dance scene in Royal Wedding where the great Fred Astaire similarly appeared to defy gravity. The fight’s really not that exciting, but I found the conceit amusing. There is a better one where the hero uses a firehouse as an all-purpose ass-beating implement, though.

Oddly, there’s not a whole lot of car stuff in the film—some, but not as much as you’d expect in a film based around an expert driver. Of the stunts we do see, they are so exaggerated that you kind of laugh rather than gasp. Which, admittedly, might have been the goal. Meanwhile, the hero’s bulletproof automobile proves laughably impervious to harm. The molecularly bonded KITT on Knight Rider took more damage than this thing.

An OK piffle, but thank goodness it only lasted 90 minutes.


At 5:48 PM, Anonymous TV's Grady said...

Lovely spam! Wonderful spam!

At 11:40 AM, Blogger BeckoningChasm said...

I finally figured out what that poster reminds me of--all those "Sketchers" ad-things in fine malls across America.

(I think Sketchers are shoes.)

At 12:34 AM, Blogger hbrennan said...

Yes, beconingchasm - "Sketchers" are shoes (touted by Howard Stern, no less). I'm not a big fan of Mr. Cranky (www.mrcranky.com) - but he did have a funny review of this movie.


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