I liked the first two Transporters because they were so simple: light on plot, heavy on action, with a great central character played by the super-cool Jason Statham. He drives around a car and gets in cool fights with people — and that’s it. What could be better?
Somehow, they managed to screw it up. Not just the director, Olivier Megaton, who’s new to the franchise; also Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen, the writers of all three movies, who here turn in a screenplay that is truly, deeply atrocious.
It makes no sense. Let me explain: the bad guy, “Johnson” (Robert Knepper), is forcing the Transporter, Frank Martin, to transport a girl named Valentina (Natalya Rudakova) from one country to another. Johnson is present when Martin leaves with the girl. Johnson is also present when Martin delivers the girl.
Why did Johnson need the Transporter in the first place?
Whoops, you’re not supposed to know that Valentina is “the package.” Martin, who in the previous movies was rather intelligent, only realizes it halfway into the movie, after everyone in the audience guessed it the moment she’s introduced.
Okay, so you don’t care that the entire premise of the movie makes no sense? How about this: there’s not that much action. Martin in hand-to-hand combat against a bunch of bad guys, this series’ bread and butter? Two quick scenes and that’s it. If you’re expecting anything as fun or inventive as the oil fight scene in the first Transporter, keep dreaming. There’s one scene where he drives his car sideways through two trucks, which might have been cooler if I hadn’t just seen it in Diamonds are Forever, a Bond movie from thirty-seven years ago.
Statham is always good in this role, and Knepper makes for an effectively slimy bad guy (even slightly toning down the wild over-acting he does on Prison Break). On the other hand, Rudakova, as Valentina, is stunt casting: you’re supposed to think “oh, cool, a love interest with an absurd amount of freckles.” The moment you get over that, you realize the character is actually really annoying.
Louis Leterrier, the director of Transporter 2, made some minor headlines recently when he revealed that he directed Frank Martin as a gay character. “If you watch the movie and you know he’s gay, it becomes so much more fun,” he told the L.A. Times.
I actually had noticed the gay subtext before — c’mon, he likes his privacy, is always impeccably dressed, and always resists the advances of his love interests until they throw themselves on him, he at least bats for both teams — but Megaton and company are all too happy to get rid of any such layers. Unfortunately, they got rid of all the action, logic, and fun, too.
This fast-paced action film marks the third outing with Jason Statham playing the role of Frank Martin.