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Cool character not enough to save lukewarm action flick

In 2002, Frank Martin (Jason Statham) was an illustrious driver who helped criminals transport their illegal materials – guns, drugs and human beings. A good guy at heart, Martin helped defeat the villains using realistic martial arts moves, incredible driving stunts and a witty sense of humor.

Three years later, Martin has traded in his faithful BMW for a brand new Audi sedan and his transporting ways have swerved from abhorrent to adolescent. He has traded bank robbers for the eight-year-old son of an important U.S. official (Matthew Modine). Not only that, but his good-guy ways have suddenly transformed into that of Superman. Martin is indestructible.

We begin our story in Miami. The opening scene seems promising. A bunch of young thugs want to steal Martin’s car. When he objects, the thugs try to use force. Before the fight can begin, the sexy, raspy voice of Martin calls, “Wait!” He takes off his jacket and says, “It just came out of the dry cleaners.” An awesomely choreographed fight erupts and, in five minutes, the thugs are on the ground. You sit back and smile, thinking “Transporter 2” will mirror the first.

But it doesn’t.

The story continues when Martin picks up the little boy he’s supposed to protect. The two have an odd relationship. Martin sees the kid as a pest, yet he’s willing to risk his life in order to save him from a kidnapper.

The kidnapper, Gianni (Alessandro Gassman), wants more than just a ransom. He injects the child with a fictitious and fatal virus that will infect anyone he comes in contact with. Gianni’s goal is to infect the child’s father, an important U.S. official, just in time for a big, international conference. Because the virus is airborne, it will infect all of the people who attend the conference, but it won’t keep infecting people, because the initial virus will die after 24 hours. Confused yet?

To top it all off, Gianni is selling the antidote to whichever terrorist group wants control over the U.S. government (in this case, it is Colombian druglords).

As you might have guessed, the lowly transporter saves the day by doing impossible stunts like dodging bullets and surviving a plane crash with hardly a scratch.

The stunts in “Transporter 2” are completely unrealistic, yet provide a full-bellied laugh. One good thing about the first “Transporter” movie is that the stunts seem almost impossible, but they are executed flawlessly by the actors. This ideal was forgotten as special effects were upgraded by advanced technology. It is a disappointment for all fans of Martin’s first adventure.

There are two redeeming qualities to this movie. One, Statham is gorgeous and even with dull dialogue and bland co-stars, he stays in character: the cool, calm, obsessive-compulsive Frank Martin. And two, Inspector Tarconi makes an appearance and adds a delightful bit of intentional comedy to the plot.

The plot is weak and the editing is sometimes too quick for the brain to comprehend the action. If you want to watch a real action movie, head to the video store and pick up the first “Transporter.”

Hopefully, the next “Transporter” movie will be better because, yes, it was left open for yet another sequel.


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