An unwarranted sequel to the modest-grossing, thoroughly forgettable 2002 actioner, "The Transporter
," "The Transporter 2" is more of the same, but with a change in locale (from Europe to Miami) and more extravagant action set-pieces. Watching 88 minutes of almost nonstop, well-choreographed car chases, stunts, gunplay and hand-to-hand combat at least gives the target audience what they're coming for, and there's something to be said about a film in the genre that keeps dialogue to a minimum and doesn't bog itself down in extraneous overplotting. The problem with "The Transporter 2," then, is that there is no soul behind any of it, just a bare skeleton for which to hang hyperactive camerawork and bombastic noise upon.
No matter what dangerous, potentially fatal hurdles transporter-turned-chauffeur Frank Martin (Jason Statham) faces, he defies death (and barely even a scratch) at every turn. Thus, his seemingly superhuman qualities suffocate whatever threat or tension there might have been had he, for example, been hurt just a little as he goes catapulting from building to building in his car and even walking away from a violent plane crash unscathed. A driver for a wealthy couple's (Amber Valletta, Matthew Modine) precocious young son, Jack (Hunter Clary), until the tyke is kidnappedobvious hints of 2004's "Man on Fire
"Jack sets out to save him and uncover the dastardly scheme of murderous psycho couple Gianni (Alessandro Gassman) and Lola (Kate Nauta). That convoluted plan, it turns out, involves infecting Jack with a deadly airborne virus so that he can pass it on to his father, a well-respected United States drug czar, right before he is to speak at a political function.
Directed by Louis Leterrier (who fared better earlier this year with the Jet Li action-drama "Unleashed
"), "The Transporter 2" has a weak script, if any script at all, but is competent enough in its plentiful stunts that there is a fleeting enjoyment to be had. That diversion, however, is just as it was in its predecessorpurely of the non-coloric variety. There is an emptiness, not to mention an ever-wearying sense of pointlessness, to what the film has to offer.
Supporting players, including Amber Valletta's (2005's "Hitch
") harried mother Audrey, Alessandro Gassman's and Kate Nauta's mass-murdering Gianni and Lola, and greatly underutilized character actor Keith David's (2004's "Crash
") Detective Stappleton, barely approach one dimension, at the mercy of a movie that uses them as disposable pawns. Recognizing this fact, spicy newcomer Nauta chews up the scenery with such unabashed relish that she at least is fun to watch strutting around in skimpy undergarments while blasting gunfire in every direction.
If sequels are good for anything other than to cash in on previous successes, it is to expand upon the characters and/or plot threads of the original. This does not happen here, and hardass nice guy Frank Martin is just as much an enigma at the end of "The Transporter 2" as he was at the beginning of "The Transporter
." Apparently without a family or a past other than what relates to his profession, Frank would seem to live just to kick the butts of the bad guys and risk his life for others. But when he goes home at night, then what? Director Louis Leterrier and screenwriters Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen (2001's "Kiss of the Dragon
") don't have a clue, and don't appear to care. Reprising the role of Frank, Jason Statham (2004's "Cellular
") has the agility of a Jackie Chan type and looks great fighting, but his emotional range is limited to a variation of scowls.
As consistently preposterous as any film since 2005's insufferable "xXx: State of the Union
," "The Transporter 2" has a quick enough pace and boasts enough go-for-broke showmanship to bring a little merit to its lightweight action aspirations. It's even superior to the first in the series, if only because it doesn't run out of steam as quickly as that one did. "The Transporter 2" barrels right along, embracing its over-the-top stupidity in the process. Once the blaze of explosions and car crashes subside, though, the viewer is left with a collapsable shell of nothingness.