Jason Statham was certainly a highlight of Guy Ritchie's "Snatch" and "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels", as the intense actor could let his guard down on occasion and be dryly funny. After taking roles in the flops "Ghosts of Mars" and "The One", Statham got his chance to be the lead in "The Transporter", an action film written by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen ("Fifth Element"). The film, while not deeply memorable as action movies go, created a solid role for Statham and provided the expected amount of considerable action sequences.
The original was set in France, but this one sees the action moved to Miami and expanded upon - where the first film had a handful of action moments, this picture is more consistently action-driven, with only a brief stretch here and there of relative quiet. Once again, Statham returns as Frank Martin, a clever transporter, whose job it is to ensure that whatever his clients require him to carry arrives intact and on-time. He's like a criminal Fedex, in other words.
This time, he's doing the kind of work that he doesn't usually do: he's looking after a little kid named Jack Billings (Hunter Clary), who's the son of a CEO (Matthew Modine, terrible.) It's up to Frank to look after him, but he runs into trouble when Gianni (Alessandro Gassman) and his psychotic henchwoman Lola (Katie Nauta), who have their sights set on kidnapping the kid and seeking a hefty ransom. Essentially, if you've seen Tony Scott's "Man on Fire", you're pretty familiar with the tale. There are some surpriss, but I won't ruin them.
Statham is once again a highlight as Martin, as the actor's dryly funny dialogue is made all the more amusing in contrast to the character's otherwise deadpan, all-business attitude. Additionally, Statham continues to impress in the action sequences, as he certainly does quite well with the martial arts. While the action sequences are bigger than those in the first film (although there is some weak CGI in the chase sequences), the choreography is also improved. Additionally, an interesting touch I noticed was that a few of the action sequences had no backing music, letting the various sound effects become the score.
Overall, "Transporter 2" is a slight improvement on the original. Crisply filmed and often over-the-top, the picture fades from memory fairly quickly, but for those seeking a slick action picture (haven't been many of those lately), it's worth a look. And, sure enough, the end suggests a potential third feature.
VIDEO: "Transporter 2" is presented by Fox in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and a cropped 1.33:1 pan & scan edition on this DVD, with each edition getting its own side of a dual-sided DVD. The widescreen presentation looked stellar, with solid sharpness and detail throughout most of the film, with only a hint of softness briefly seen during a couple of scenes.
Minor edge enhancement was present during some of the bright outdoor sequences, but other than those briefly-seen issues, the presentation didn't show any faults - no pixelation, print flaws or other issues. Colors remained bright and vivid, with nice saturation and no smearing or other faults.
SOUND: The film's Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation is satisfying, providing considerable surround use to back-up the action sequences, with the rear speakers enveloping the viewer with sound effects and mild ambience. Audio quality is solid, as sound effects had some punch behind them and dialogue sounded crisp and clear. Bass is quite strong, although not quite overwhelming.
EXTRAS: A set of deleted scenes, two "making of" featurettes and a blooper reel.
Final Thoughts: "Transporter 2" is a moderately entertaining action flick, as the picture provides the expected thrills and a fine lead effort from Statham - no more, no less. Fox's DVD edition provides solid audio/video quality and a few minor supplements. Worth a rental.
The Film B-