The Transporter (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner15/01/2003

Three out of Five stars
Running time 94 mins

Stylish and enjoyable but prone to stupidity, The Transporter showcases Statham’s undeniable charisma and physicality while revealing his dubious acting skills. As big and dumb a movie as they come.

Luc Besson was apparently so taken with Jason Statham’s performance in Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels that he wrote and produced this Euro/Asian hybrid action flick with the former Olympic diver in mind. Praise indeed, and a tough gig to carry off. But Statham more than delivers - as long as he doesn’t open his mouth.

Never Open The Package

He plays an ex-Special Forces toughie with one of those good, solid American names that hardmen are obliged to have, Frank Martin. Now living in the South of France, Martin delivers any dodgy package the local gangsters need transporting, whether it’s a case of drugs or a gang of bank robbers.

Impeccably dressed and firing up a gadget-laden BMW, Martin runs his business by three unbending rules; never change the deal, never swap names and never open the package.

Though pumped up within an inch of his life and a practiced mercenary, Martin has a soft streak that allows him to break his own mantra and open a squirming package he’s given by a gangster named Wall Street (The Fast And The Furious’ Schultz). Inside he finds feisty fox Lai (Qi) who quickly causes no end of problems and draws Martin into a human slavery ring run by her imperious father (Young).

Soon all of Martin’s rules are out the window as the duo try to stay one step ahead of a genial local policeman (Berleand) and Wall Street’s ferocious gang who think nothing of bazooka-ing Martin’s des-res villa. And naturally, it’s not long before Lai and Martin are involved in a clumsy, crowbarred love scene.

Monsieur Bond

Statham plays Martin as a sort of Monsieur Bond, all cool calculation and detachment, and the opening twenty minutes of The Transporter more than rivals 007 for jump-cut, stunt-heavy virtuosity as Martin races through the cobbled streets of Nice pursued by hapless gendarmerie. Joyously OTT with a pumping soundtrack and plenty of tyre squeals, it’s a cinematic adrenalin shot and benefits from Statham having to say very little.

Unfortunately the story and atrocious dialogue then creeps in. Statham emotes in an unfathomable trans-Atlantic accent, talking himself through his every move so conscientiously (“Never open the package, Frank”) that he seems primed for a career as a TV chef if the bottom falls out of transporting. No wonder the baddies relentless turn up everywhere he goes - they probably only have to eavesdrop to hear him tell himself about his secret plans.

Though some impressive and high camp action set pieces (including an inventive oil-slick rumble) and Statham’s considerable physical talents keep the action ticking along, the lulls between fisticuffs serve only to expose a weak story and clanging dialogue.

But admittedly, who goes to see a movie with a soundtrack at this decibel to listen to the script? Knowingly theatrical, zippily directed and boasting the use of a sweater as a lethal weapon, The Transporter is gorgeous to look at, sharp, smart and fast. But it’s also bordering on the ridiculous and curiously, exhaustingly empty.

And that’s exactly what you want some Saturday nights, isn’t it?

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The Transporter (15)
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Content updated: 17/10/2017 08:42

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