Jason Statham’s breakout film, The Transporter premiered in 2002. Louis Leterrier took the director’s seat and as I mentioned in my Now You See Me review a while ago, I enjoyed the scripting and sculpting he did with these films. Despite that, I have to admit that The Transporter is probably my least favorite of the three.
Statham is a fun guy to watch although I’m not sure how far his assortment of tricks can stretch because it seems he’s typecast as the same guy. It’s not a congruent replica but only minor bumps and moldings make our transporter, Frank Martin, different from any character Statham has played before. With that said, Frank Martin isn’t a bad character and this is the character Statham resides the most with in my opinion. He’s very organized, precise and cautious because of the profession he’s pursuing but you can also pick out he’s all for the quiet life and being left alone when he’s not eluding the police on the roadways. He’s got an anti-hero complex because he’s technically breaking the law but Martin wants all to be right at the end of the day, just his pocketbook’s a little heavier, that’s all.
The film starts with a car chase, which is to be expected because doesn’t nearly every action movie have to have a car chase? I feel it’s almost a requirement now. Directors enter the first meeting pre-production and are like, “So, where are we putting the car chase?”
It’s a job well-done that gives us some sly banter from Martin that gives us a feel for the guy and some dry humor.
Statham’s next job doesn’t go according to plan as he breaks one of his own rules: never open the package. Granted, if a package in my trunk was bouncing up and down and screaming, I think I’d want to check it out, too. Unzipping the bag ends his curiosity and gives his conscience some comfort in knowing he did all he could do but ends up coming back to bite him when his employer gets the sense he knows something and in his employer’s case, knowing something isn’t nothing, and knowing anything means loose ends and loose ends….okay I’m moving on. So our movie begins.
As I mentioned above, not much to complain about in the first half hour. Nothing exceptional but it’s a good time and isn’t that all we’re asking for, especially after an eight and a half hour shift? The portrait doesn’t have to be perfect or pristine, it just needs to be worth the time and energy I’m putting into it. Yeah, sitting around watching a movie probably doesn’t involve a lot of energy but that’s not the point. You know what I mean!
Statham loves doing his own stunts and in an age where it doesn’t seem any actor does his own stunts, I appreciate that and respect Statham all the more for it. Most times, I don’t notice when a stunt double is in front of the camera. I feel if I’m noticing that there’s probably something seriously wrong. When you think about it though, do you know who gets all the credit for those stunts? The actor. Maybe it’s just me, but I think there’s some injustice there, credit not being given where credit is due, you know what I mean? Yeah, they get their name in the credits, but those are the credits nobody reads or pays attention to. The true credits come during the presentation. Is it the actor’s fault that stunt doubles don’t get a pat on the back? No, of course not, but I know if I was an actor, I’d want to be enthralled in the project as much as possible. Some stunts are incredibly dangerous and taking the risk is just not worth it, but other stunts, especially considering the safety precautions we have in place, I feel are doable for a main star, so when I notice that isn’t my man up there whooping keisters, I frown, sigh, and droop my shoulders. What does all this mean? It means if you do your own stunts, you get bonus points from Tim! Hear that Hollywood? HEAR THAT?!
So Statham taking on the full plate in front of him does cause the portrayal to suffer I’m sure, but there’s no doubt in my mind that Statham is giving it 110 percent and trying your best is all that matters, right? Unless you make a really bad movie doing so, then you just suck and need to relocate.
The Transporter isn’t like that, thank God, but it’s got its stutters. Our first stutter is probably the budding romance between Statham’s Martin and Lai, played by Shu Qi. Lai’s really vocal, energetic and exuberant, which causes tension with Martin’s calm and collected self. The personalities seem like they would work in a romance but it still seems far-fetched. Why? Because I don’t remember the last time a guy drove a girl tied up in a bag in a trunk, came back and found out he was driving a kidnapped girl around in his trunk and aside from giving her a drink, didn’t do anything about it but yet still got some affection out of it.
Yeah, I’m sure she figured out that Martin’s not a bad guy, but aren’t you angry about what you just went through? She doesn’t once ask him why he was driving her around, what he does, if he does stuff like this all the time, nothing. She acts like she’s kidnapped all the time and that’s when our spiel of real life drama turns into a storybook fairy tale. It’s not that I don’t have fun with this film, it’s just obvious the screenwriters got a little carried away here or they just didn’t know how else to introduce this character. Nonetheless, some more thought or dialogue here would have been appreciated to make this feel like a real situation rather than a quick 92-minute movie.
The action scenes are innovative and give me some things I haven’t seen played out before, but other times they play out forced and predictable. It gives off the vibe of a 80’s action film, minus the awesome and yet so corny one-liners.
Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.
80-89 It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Tears of the Sun, Edge of Tomorrow, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Young Guns, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2)
50-59 This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (The Starving Games, You’re Next, Thor, Full Metal Jacket, Alien Resurrection)
40-49 This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Billy Madison, A Haunted House, 300: Rise of an Empire, Cowboys and Aliens, Serendipity)
30-39 Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (Planet of the Apes, Stonados, Redemption, Pride and Prejudice, The Contract)
0-19 Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (A Haunted House 2, Open Grave, Alien 3, Dark Fury, Midnight Cowboy)
My score for The Transporter: 68.
Leterrier’s The Transporter is a fun time and with Statham I feel that’s a given 90 percent of the time, but that doesn’t mean a few trips and stumbles were unseen, ones that might have been fixable with a little more taping and editing.