When we last left the Transporter, aka Frank Martin (Jason Statham), he was still in business, carting around the kind of goods you can't buy in stores. Now he's in Miami, working as a temporary chauffeur for federal narcotics control wonk Mr. Billings (Matthew Modine). But when his most precious cargo yet -- Billing's precocious son Jack (Hunter Clary) -- is kidnapped by Colombian drug lord Gianni (Alessandro Gassman) and his psychotic she-warrior Lola (Kate Nauta), the Transporter is the prime suspect. With only Billing's estranged wife (Amber Valletta) on Frank's side, the Transporter will have to rescue the boy, bring the real culprits to justice, and thwart a diabolical world domination plot involving biological warfare. Nobody said being the crime underworld's answer to FedEx was easy.
Really, now, did the world need a sequel to 'The Transporter'? An efficient if unremarkable action movie, it skidded along largely on the charms of Statham, cinema's most laconic and dry-witted action hero since Bruce Willis's John McClane. But after the original 'Transporter' earned over $50 million worldwide and became a DVD hit in the U.S., apparently Fox decided there was just enough of a fan base to save the sequel from going direct-to-video. The result is that 'Transporter 2' is about as efficient and unremarkable as the first film, and yet in some ways, more fun.
Again, the 'Transporter' flicks would be nothing without Statham. He so underplays even the most ludicrous situations that all the post-modern hipness almost topples over into camp. But the addition of the Frank-Jack relationship adds a surprisingly successful more human dimension to the sequel. I wouldn't call 'Transporter 2' sentimental, but Statham and Clary have a genuine chemistry that offsets any mawkishness. It also helps that Clary is one of the least annoying child actors in recent memory; he's cute and clever, without being cloying. Even if I never gave two hoots about the plot -- the biological warfare thing is utterly preposterous -- I genuinely cared about what happened to the characters.
Along with Statham, returning for the second go-round are director Louis Letterier and executive producer Luc Besson. Wisely, they ramp up the sequel's action quotient to the stratosphere. In fact, I can't recall a movie that so sustained a level of non-stop car chases, fist-fights and gun battles since 'ALIENS.' Sure, it is all pretty empty-headed, but it all speeds by so fast it hardly matters. And in the fierce Valletta, Letterier and Besson may have created the most hilariously over-the-top female villain in action movie history. Think Cruella De Vil meets Lara Croft -- this chick is so bad-ass she can go head-to-head with Statham and make him seem girly. I'd never heard of Valletta before seening this film, but if she hadn't played the bad girl in this one, I'd say she should have been the hero of her own spin-off movie. If nothing else, she and Clary give 'Transporter 2' a much-needed boost of ferocity, warmth and humor. The film may still be utterly forgettable, but for the duration of 'Transporter 2's measly 87 minutes, I was never less than totally entertained.
As Fox released the original 'Transporter' on Blu-ray only a few weeks ago, it is interesting to compare the visual styles of the two films with the first still so fresh in my mind. Immediately, it is clear that 'Transporter 2' is a much glossier, slicker movie. Just about every aspect of this 1080p/MPEG-2 transfer is tweaked to high heaven. Contrast is pumped up, giving the presentation a very hard look with a loss of detail in the shadows. Colors, too, are intensely saturated, and noticeably artificial. That doesn't help fleshtones much, which are so shiny and orange that most of the actors look like Nintendo characters.
That said, I've been criticized at times for faulting a transfer for aesthetic decisions made by the filmmakers, so I'm still giving 'Transporter 2' quite high marks. Technically, it's a rock solid presentation. The source is flawless, blacks are dead-on and depth to the image is supple. This transfer may look processed, but it certainly pops. The film's endless scenes of fast-action also remind me why I love pre-recorded high-def over broadcast, as there is no macroblocking or other compression artifacts to bemoan. Zippity do-da, another winner on Blu-ray from Fox.
'Transporter 2' sounds as spiffy as it looks. Fox gives us another DTS-HD Lossless Master Audio 5.1 mix, and right from the first scene you know it's gonna be pretty killer. Before our hero even gets out of the parking garage, he's already beaten a group of thugs single-handedly with just a few flicks of the wrists. As the Transporter bitch-slaps the bad guys, a bunch of whips and whooshes fill all five channels, and the clarity and sense of detail is excellent. This quality level holds up throughout the film's umpteenth action sequences, with strong low bass, aggressive surround use and clean dialogue reproduction. Sure, any scene not involving an explosion is boring, but who's listening to a word the characters are saying, anyway?
Zero. Zip. Nada. Nothing. Only a trailer gallery with some previews for other Fox Blu-ray titles.
'Transporter 2' is a fun, action-packed, and ultimately unnecessary sequel. But it looks and sounds cool, and Jason Statham continues to be the most likable action hero around. Fox has produced a serviceable disc for the flick, but that ain't bad -- the transfer and soundtrack deliver, even if the extras are nil. Given its $39.95 list price, only diehard will likely want to invest in a purchase, but fans of the genre should definitely give it a rent.