The Transporter

Year 2002

Jason Statham as  Frank Martin
Shu Qi as Lai
François Berléand  as Tarconi
Matt Schulze as Wall Street
Ric Young as Mr. Kwai
Director - Corey Yuen
Screenwriters  - Luc Besson
  - Robert Mark Kamen  

Don't open the trunk? You promised not to open the trunk! You opened the trunk! I paid you not to open the trunk. Now I'm going to have to kill you and your little friend, too.

What can you say about Luc Besson? The man who gave us The Professional, The Fifth Element, and The Big Blue also gives us The Transporter. If nothing else, he's quite versatile. This movie is probably closer to La Femme Nikita than any of his other movies.

I like Luc Besson. I wanted to like The Transporter...a lot. But, the stunts kept ratcheting up to the point of absurdity. In the end, it was a bit much. It's watchable if you like lots of flashing lights and loud noises and creative, if ludicrous, stunts.

There's the first half of the movie where Frank Martin (Jason Statham) plays a consciousless ride for hire. He moves this here and that there and gets paid. He's trustworthy. He's meticulous. So is the movie and the writing.

Then, on one mission, he breaks the rules and opens the trunk of a car to see what he's hauling. Guess what's inside the trunk?

At this point, I think that either monkeys took over the script or the writers started feeling the effects of whatever they were drinking up to that point. Oh, there's the Luc Besson trademark deflection of a heat seeking missile into a hot oven, but that's the last believable part of the movie. Yeah, really. Everything past that scene is way over the top.

That's not to say that certain scenes aren't "cool". The martial arts contest on oil is a good one. In fact, it's worth commenting on. This isn't really a spoiler because it's not linked to the plot (not much is linked to this bit of fluff), but if you'd rather watch the film first, skip the next four paragraphs.

Frank is stuck in a warehouse with a bunch of guys intent on doing him harm. Frank, ever the quick one to make use of whatever's around, spots a bicycle and a drum of oil. By spilling the oil on the floor, he makes the floor slick so the bad guys will have no traction when they come to kill him. They will also not be able to fire their guns because the oil will ignite. Uh, really? These must be really dumb bad guys.

Motor oil doesn't light up until after it's overall temperature hits about 400° F and then it has to be exposed to an open flame. Compare this to gasoline with a flash point of -40° F and diesel fuel with a flash point of 200° F. (And everyone knows that you can pump diesel fuel, with its lower flash point than motor oil, with a lit cigarette hanging out of your mouth. You didn't know that? Well, you can because the fuel will not ignite.) Still, we'll let this gaffe slide because these could be dumb bad guys.

The next thing that Frank does is go over to the bike (talk about an out of place prop) and, with a couple of quick kicks, snaps off the pedals. Yeah, that could happen...NOT! I've bent bike pedals but never snapped off the steel bolt that holds one on. I've seen four hundred pound people riding bikes. I worry about the seat giving way but never the pedals. They're made to withstand strain and stress. If Frank kicked down on the pedal as hard as he could, the best he could hope for would be for his knee to slam into his jaw as his leg rebounded from the force of his blow.

Now Frank has the pedals. The bad guys are sliding on the floor like it's ice. Frank straps on the pedals and turns into Antaeus (as long as he's touching the ground through his "magick" pedals, no one can harm him.) And they are magickal because they are never covered with oil and Frank never loses his traction.

There's a scene where Frank parachutes down onto the trailer of a moving truck. Hokey, but enjoyable. The problem is that these things are so out of character with the nearly credible first part of the movie that you can only enjoy the second part if you think of it as a cartoon.

But, it's not too bad and it's not smarmy. It knows it's a diversion and doesn't mind being the soulless drunk at the party.

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