US Release Date: 10-11-2002
Directed by: Louis Leterrier
- Jason Statham, as
- Frank Martin
- Qi Shu, as
- Matt Schulze, as
- Wall Street
- Francois Berleand, as
- Ric Young, as
- Mr. Kwai
- Doug Rand, as
- Didier Saint Melin as
Jason Statham and Qi Shu in The Transporter.
Unless they are doing comedy like Monty Python, British actors always seem to be so stiff and proper, like Colin Firth. Too often they even seem a bit feminine, like Hugh Grant. The Transporter finally creates a British, muscle bound, ass kicking movie star. I know, James Bond movies are considered action movies, but does he ever even sweat?
Jason Statham (Snatch) stars as Frank Martin, an exmilitary man living in the south of France. He transports goods for people, with no questions asked. He is not actually the bad guy, although he definitely breaks the law as he drives the getaway car for some French thieves. Frank just does it for the rush.
On one such transport he breaks one of his own rules by opening the package. Inside is a beautiful Chinese girl. He still delivers her to a crooked American, Matt Schulze (Blade). The American then has Frank deliver another package. The suspicious package blows Frank's car up on the way back. Luckily, Frank was out of the car at the time having lunch. Frank then goes back to the American's mansion and kicks some major ass. He then steals a car and drives away, only to discover the Chinese girl hiding in the back seat.
Frank and the girl, of course, hook up. She seduces him and he agrees to help her rescue some Chinese people who are being transported in big cargo containers. Through a great number of action sequences Frank redeems his unlawful history by stopping the American from doing his illegal transporting.
Jason Statham's accent and mannerisms make him the British answer to Vin Diesel. Both are muscular, bald action stars. Statham may singlehandedly change my image of the British male actor. Until I watched this movie, I didn't even know they had gyms in England. Every time Statham takes his shirt off in this movie I got the urge to go work out.
This is an adrenaline rush of a movie. Action packed in shoot outs and fight scenes. One of the very first scenes is Frank driving his car through Nice as he is pursued by the police. This scene is supposed to be exciting but the editing is less than perfect. In one shot he is driving up some stairs at high speed, commenting on the importance of the cars shocks to the nervous passengers. The scene them jumps to the car backing out onto a plaza. Sure it is not integral to the plot, but the inconsistency made the whole sequence lose its tension.
This movie is by no means perfect. Yet it does do what it sets out to do. It supplies plenty of great action. It also shows that Jason Statham may very well be the next big action star.
Jason Statham and Qi Shu in The Transporter.
I agree with Eric that Jason Statham has the potential to be an action star, but I also found more to fault about the movie as a whole than he did. While it is fast paced and action packed, some of the action is less than believable and Frank's coolness, in the face of the most outlandish situations, is over done. If he never gets scared or worried, why should the audience?
Having said that, the movie does still offer some cheap thrills, but of the kind that make a good video game rather than a movie. There are a couple of times where they hint at a little depth, but apart from knowing that he was once in the military, you learn very little about the main character and even less about everyone else. Frank's relationship with the French Detective is one of the few human moments in the entire film.
The reason this lack of depth bothered me is that there was real potential to make an adult thriller, along the lines of The Bourne Supremacy, but instead the filmmakers went the other way, clearly aiming for mindless action over character or plot development.
Did I enjoy The Transporter? Yes, but only in a very shallow, "That looked cool" kind of way. For a mindless action flick it has its charms, but it could have been so much more.
Jason Statham kicks serious butt in The Transporter.
Yeah this is pure adrenaline fueled eye-candy with no thought for logic or the laws of physics. It features one outlandish action sequence after another. The Transporter is never boring but it has all the depth of a schoolyard scuffle blown up to incredibly implausible proportions. At no point in the movie is Frank Martin ever in any real danger. And the fight scenes become quite interchangeable and monotonous after awhile. It's stylish and cool but ultimately pointless.
Here's the pattern. A seemingly insurmountable number of bad guys approach Frank. He pauses for an instant, tilts his head and poses for the camera, before proceeding to defeat them all every single time. Even with his hands being held down he can defeat any number of bad guys using only his feet. Only the two main villains, Wall Street and Mr. Kwai, ever manage to get the upper hand on him, and even then you know it's only temporary. Our indestructible hero will soon recover and win the day.
Jason Statham is good in the part. He plays stoic well and has just enough shit eating charm to almost carry off all of the increasingly ridiculous stunts he performs throughout the movie. He shows off his buffed physique in several scenes (see photo). Shu Qi is equally good as Lai, the damsel in distress who turns out to be pretty bad-ass herself. They share a decent chemistry together even if their relationship is as shallow as everything else about this movie.
As far as mindless action flicks go you could do worse than The Transporter. It was popular enough to spawn two sequels, one in 2005 and one in 2008. This fall (2015) the franchise is being rebooted with the upcoming The Transporter: Refueled. It's the first movie in a proposed new trilogy with Luc Besson returning as writer/producer, but the now 47-year-old Jason Statham has been replaced by 32-year-old Ed Skrein. While I enjoyed this movie on a purely superficial level, I'm in no hurry to revisit the franchise.
Photos © Copyright 20th Century Fox (2002)