A fun ride on the big screen


September 02, 2005|By Roger Moore | Roger Moore,ORLANDO SENTINEL

A new Bond? Who cares? Who needs Bond?

We've got The Transporter 2.

The second installment of this French-engineered, Brit-starring, Hong Kong-styled action series is more slam-bang and much sillier than the original. It loses some of the lean, mean minimalism of The Transporter and crosses over into Bond far-fetchedness in its plot and stunts. But it's still a noisy, goofy, cartoonishly violent ride.

This time, our transporter, played by the bullet-headed, rule-spouting Jason Statham, is running his particular brand of delivery service in Miami. But the methodical, super-skilled ex-Special Forces getaway driver has been reduced to taking a rich kid to and from school.

At least he's teaching the boy (Hunter Clary) "the rules."

"Respect a man's car and the man respects you."

He tells the kid he'll never let anything happen to him. He tells the kid to never make a promise you can't keep.

And then the kid is 'napped.

Our transporter is kind of warm for the boy's mom - ex-model Amber Valletta. She's depending on him because her drug-enforcement politico hubby (Matthew Modine) is useless. But what can you do when an international terrorist (Alessandro Gassman) is bent on doing something with a virus to the kid and maybe the rest of Miami?

You get to transporting, that's what you do. Statham, with the aid of stunt doubles, chases bad guys and is chased by the feds all over sexy South Florida. Cars, Jet Skis, a helicopter and a private jet come into play.

The transporter relentlessly tracks the bad guys with the aid of the French police officer (Francois Berleand, brought back for comic relief) all with an eye toward a showdown with another model, the murderous and ever-undressed Lola, played by model-actress-singer Kate Nauta.

Casting in these movies is for effect. The first one had a Chinese director and Asian overtones. This one has the same martial arts director, Corey Yuen, so the fights are even more spectacular. They work because Statham, an ex-Olympic diver, can remake himself into a British Jet Li - call him Brit Lee.

But Transporter 2 is all about design - from the slick Audi to the always rain-slicked indoor parking garages (makes for a cool, illogical look), to producer Luc Besson's thing for emaciated models. He cast Valletta and Nauta, two nonactresses with perfect cheekbones, all over-styled hair, and little flair for acting.

Transporter 2 is, like the original, loaded with action. But a recent re-viewing of The Transporter on DVD shows that, reduced to TV size, the plot springs leaks and the brawls, car, boat and plane crashes look like what they plainly are - fake.

If you really want to be transported by this one, better see it on the big screen.

The Orlando Sentinel is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

Transporter 2

Starring Jason Statham, Alessandro Gassman, Amber Valletta, Kate Nauta

Directed by Louis Leterrier

Released by 20th Century Fox

Time 88 minutes

Rated PG-13 (violent action, sexual content, partial nudity, language)

Sun Score ** 1/2 (two stars and 1 half star)

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