I know these are old news for most of you, but Emily Rose, Flightplan, and Transporter 2 were finally released tonight. The Exorcism sold out when there were only two people left ahead of me in the queue (which surprised me since it’s still the second weekend of Harry Potter) so I went to Transporter 2 because I recalled hearing slightly fewer people hating it than hated Flightplan.
So with extremely low expectations I actually enjoyed it. I agree with the criticism that the Frank character would never (knowingly) agree to transport a person, but at least it was addressed at the beginning of the movie when he says it’s not his usual type of job and he’s doing it as a favor for a friend.
As for the director’s insistence in interviews that the title character is gay — implied in the movie by his inability to bang the brains out of super-duper-hot Amber Valetta “because of who I am” — that’s about as smart an idea as making Superman immune to Kryptonite.
Imagine if Bryan Singer decided to update Superman so he didn’t have a single weakness: “For the first time in 70 years he’s truly invulnerable!”? Stoopid. Analogously, the idea of making a character who can already outdrive and outfight anyone, not to mention dodge bullets, also immune to women, is infinitely lame, not to mention a pathologically stereotypical explanation for Frank’s fastidious garment care. He’s “a new kind of action hero” like James Bond without a weakness is “new.”
There’s no denying similarities with James Bond, which are most invited by the 007 music during the chase scenes. I think the comparison favors Trans2, however, because the last Bond film actually made me hate car chases. The Die Another Die icecapade bored me to death with neverending shots of two cars driving up a circular ramp. You can’t just keep showing the same two shots back and forth! Trans2’s superiority is also due to the fact that it’s 45 minutes shorter than the interminable Die Another Day.
Then the Bourne Supremacy squandered what from the few intelligible glimpses must have been an awesome chase by hiring Michael J. Fox as the cameraman. So it’s been a long time since I enjoyed watching cars in a movie, but Transporter 2 is the most fun I’ve had watching driving on a screen since the online BMW films starring Clive Owen.
Trans2 also costars a gorgeous A8 — with the 12-cylinder engine, identified in the early pan across the grille by the tiny “W12” badge indicating the Volkswagon/Audi design of two V6s fused together. The best family sedan $120,000 can buy. Oh yeah, and the Murcielago was also nice to see on screen for the second time this year, but way more fun than Bruce Wayne just pulling up to a hotel in it. I wish it could have been me fingering those paddle shifters.
Everyone in the theater laughed when Frank flipped the Audi over to dislodge a bomb under his chassis, but I’m all for it because I don’t pay money to see “only things that can happen in real life.” Though it was admittedly out of character with the attempted sophistication of the first movie, it was not out of character with this sequel which was full of wonderfully over-the-top action (the shot of Frank in mid-air reaching for the antidote vials still stands out). I’m sick of realism in film and comics and Trans2 delivered a lot of what the doctor ordered on a very low budget. $32 million is even low enough to forgive the CG airplane because the shots inside the cabin were grin-worthy.
I had heard about the terrible editing of the fight scenes, and while there is definitely some crossing of the “director’s line” it didn’t distract me too much, even during the firehose scene which was the most potentially confusing. I think my brain was able to coherently put together the quick shots because each one was a visually clear “snapshot” from a stable point of view (no matter how different the angles), still preferable to my pet peeve, the TouretteCam.
Trans1’s primary fault of unspeakably loud NuMetal that drowned out everything else (in the theatrical sound mix, if not the DVD) is thankfully corrected in the sequel. At least one of Trans2’s fight scenes is completely unaccompanied by music of any kind. And the movie gets automatic points for using The Servant’s beautiful song Cells, made popular by the trailer for Sin City but which never appeared in the actual movie (a nearly unforgivable defect of that film).
Surely Transporter 2 wasn’t good enough to deserve a review this long, but I did enjoy it and I think it succeeded at what it attempted. But it would be nice if another installment returned the franchise to a European locale and Frank’s original and more promising rules of no names, no changes, and never open the package (unless it’s a woman!).