In 2002, Luc Besson wrote a movie for Jason Statham, who trained a whole bunch for the Jet Li movie The One. Basically, Jet Li travels the multi-verse killing all other Jet Lis so that he can become the one Jet Li – and in so doing, the most powerful Jet Li. The only person left to stop him is, of course, one of the other Jet Lis. Statham played a cop partnered with Delroy Lindo who was after the bad Jet Li.
Besson felt that Statham was an action star on the rise – which was a surprise to Guy Ritchie fans, who felt that Bacon was best in brawly british comedies. That’s the short version of how we got the Louis Leterrier directed The Transporter. Frank Martin is the transporter – a guy who picks things up and takes them places in Marseilles. He’s got three rules for his business – 1) Never change the deal, 2) No names, 3) never look in the package. He inevitably looks in the package he’s handed, and subsequently gets pulled into a human trafficking mess. Luckily, he and his tricked out BMW are skilled enough to save the day.
It’s super fun with some awesome practical action and great performances from Francois Berleand and the creepy Ric Young. You also get to see Matt Schulze midway through his transition from creepy-skinny couch thug vampire in Blade to creepy-bulked up mercenary vampire in Blade 2.
This led to two sequels. Transporter 2 shifted Martin to America, and he did some fancy driving in Miami to try to clear his name in the kidnapping of the son of a US official. It also snuck Statham’s best friend Jason Flemyng in as a creepy thug – he’s the best part. The rest is really terrible.
Transporter 3 sends Frank back to Europe, and he delivers a young woman from Marseilles to Odessa. It’s even worse than the second one.
Despite the lame sequels, we did end up getting a TV show, and now a re-booting of the film franchise. I suppose the original is 13 years old, but that seems way too soon for a re-booting. In any case, in this one, we’re re-introduced to Frank Martin – the ex-special ops soldier who is making a living transporting things in Marseilles. We also get to meet his dad, who seems to have just retired from being a British spy – but keeps telling Frank he just worked for Evian selling water. Sure you did, buddy.
Frank gets hired to move some ladies from one place to another, and accidentally gets caught up in one woman’s revenge/escape plot to get out of her life of sex slavery. Her mother basically sold her to a bunch of thugs when she was little, and she’s been working for them ever since. She’s got an elaborate plan to get out, and Frank and his father get mixed up in it.
Honestly, that’s about it for the plot. There’s some pretty good action, some okay car chases, and of course – some slow loving looks at flashy cars. The hand to hand sequences definitely fall short of the original, they are part of what made the original so unique and cool. This one barely has any. I also had a bit of a problem with the complicated plan that the prostitutes come up with. They start out as cold and calculating – willing to do anything to get free, including kick some ass. But near the end, they turn into damsels in distress again – needing to be rescued. It would have been great if they would have stayed at the same level through the whole movie. This one is directed by Camille Delamarre, who is another Besson product and has worked as an editor on his other movies. He did an okay job, and really, my issues with the movie are not with the directing. More with the story – and some of the acting – and the fact that it was made. It's just entirely unnecessary.
- In case, like me, while watching Game of Thrones you were puzzled by what happed to Daario Naharis, this movie is the reason. Once season he was this crazy beautiful fair-haired dude, suddenly the next season, he’s a completely different guy – and since that character almost never gets called by his name, there were at least a couple of episodes where I kept thinking, “Who is this guy, and what happened to that other guy?” Well, they’re the same guy – but Ed Skrein, the first actor, left the show to do this movie (bad move, Ed). Of course, he will be the villain in the upcoming Deadpool movie (good move, Ed). Why not Statham? Statham wanted $11 million and they didn’t want to give him that.
- Skrein is just fine. He’s not exciting or interesting, but he is just fine. He looks a little bit like if you took Nicholas Hoult and Statham-ed him up a bit. He’s not nearly as charismatic as Statham, and honestly – the comparison is not fair – but, it’s a Transporter movie, so you can’t help but compare him, and he comes up way short.
- The best part of this movie is the inclusion of Ray Stevenson as Frank Senior. He’s been a favorite of mine since Anthony Fuqua’s King Arthur. He was a decent Punisher, and he’s great in the Thor movies as one of the Warriors Three. He’s super fun in this, and really seems to get the hang of making a bad action movie. If only everyone else around him was having as much fun. I did get a little tired of him getting constantly kidnapped.
- Loan Chabanol plays Anna, the lead of the four prostitutes that the film centers around. She’s the one with the complicated plan to get out from under the thugs.
- Gabriella Wright plays Gina, Tatiana Pajkovic plays Maria, and Wenxia Yu plays Qiao – the three woman who make up the rest of the prostitutes. Did you not immediately make a D’Artangnan and the Three Musketeers connection? Don’t worry, the movie will make that for you over and over again.
- Radivoje Bukvic plays the bad guy, Karasov– he’s a completely generic eastern-european flesh-peddler bad guy.
- Noemie Lenoir plays Maissa, the one prostitute that seems to be on Karasov’s side.
This movie was not good. And I love a terrible action movie, but one that has a good sense of fun and some really unique action sequences. This movie had none of that. Skip it – just rewatch the 2002 original. And hey, re-watch The One while you’re at it.
4 out of 10 – Gained points for the locations, man, southern France looks gorgeous! Lost points for no Statham, and no Berleand. Gained points for Ray Stevenson. Lost points for Frank (both Franks) sleeping with the prostitutes they are trying to help. I get that they’re seducing you guys, but they’re still prostitutes, show a little control!
Bonus Video 1 – War, this movie was bad, but it was a Statham – Li rematch prior to the Expendables.
Bonus Video 2 – Expendables 3 was a really really good terrible action movie!
Bonus Video 3 – Cast Interviews.