Transporter 2 (Uncut Version) Review
Despite being a perfectly amenable piece of fun and perhaps even the best of Luc Besson’s non-directorial efforts since 1986’s Kamikaze (it certainly topped the various Taxi endeavours as well as the numerous Jet Li collaborations), the original Transporter wasn’t particularly memorable. As I write (and at a distance of roughly three years since my last encounter) all I can readily recall is the gleefully stupid fight sequence involving a greased-up Jason Statham. Certainly, any kind of plotting or character touches have disappeared into the ether, if, that is, they even existed in the first place. The point I’m making is that Transporter 2 essentially carries on along very similar lines; we don’t need to remember anything beyond the central concept – namely that Statham can drive really fast and get involved in a few punch-ups – whilst the only thing that has changed is the setting. Previously we had the French Riviera, now we’re getting Miami.
Of course, such superficiality isn’t going to worry the filmmakers. All they wish to do is make as slick and professional a product as possible. You get the impression occasionally that they may be harbouring secret aims of depth – the plot, which revolves around a young boy’s kidnapping, offers plenty of opportunity for sentimentality and melodrama; Statham’s lead clearly wishes to have at least a little of Alain Delon’s existentialist cool for Le Samouraï - but then these never impose themselves to any impactful degree. Basically it all comes down to style, to set pieces and the intermittent crap one-liner. Indeed, it seems perfectly feasible that the script was shaped solely as a means to such considerations. No doubt the Miami setting came first – thereby allowing that rich look of honeyed golds and azure blues – followed swiftly by the various showstoppers: the climax in a freefalling place; the nonsense in the multi-storey car park (leaping vehicles! exploding helicopters! minimal damage to the paintwork!); and Kate Nauta in various states of undress.
In this respect Transporter 2 is perhaps closest to the Taxi movies from Besson’s back catalogue, albeit with added gunfire and martial arts. It certainly has that over the top comic book feel and the essence of being a Besson facsimile rather than the real thing. As said, it’s all very slick and professional, but at the same time undeniably lacks the director’s distinctive touch (no matter what you think of his end results). Moreover, the comic book flavour produces a distanced approach whereby the death count is really quite astonishingly high, yet ultimately shrugged off. Indeed, this lack of attachment results in an undoubted lack of excitement and as such the filmmakers have to repeatedly head into the realms of the ridiculous in order to maintain our attention. Statham superhumanly dodges bullets whilst running down narrow corridors, has his car fly through the air on countless occasions and later gets up to some very silly business on a jet ski. In fact, silliness pretty much sums up the whole state of affairs, though in this respect it does make you wonder why the filmmakers didn’t simply go all out and produce a comedy. Certainly, it remains entertainment purely because of this very fact, but then that’s hardly the guarantee of a decent action movie.
Firstly this release of Transporter 2 is the uncut version with a running time to match the French Uncut DVD (84:25mins) and the same set of improved special effects and snippets of additional action/violence also found on that version. Some screencaps to demonstrate can be found here.
Released in the UK by Fox, Transporter 2 gets the decent if not spectacular treatment. Certainly, there can be few complaints on the presentation front with the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 preserved (and anamorphically enhanced) and the print itself being in spotless condition. Moreover, the disc preserves the distinctive look of the film and demonstrates no immediate technical problems. All told, a fine job all round. As for the soundtrack here we find a DD5.1 offering in equally fine condition. Again, no problems are forthcoming with the explosions, techno stylings of the score and dialogue all coming across without fail.
In terms of extras, here things aren’t quite so impressive. The ‘making of’ featurette barely stretches beyond four minutes whilst the more substantial piece devoted to the scoring has to contend with the fact that each of its numerous interviewees and participants are all dubbed by the same to voice actors, oftentimes to really quite amusing results. Oddly, the most substantial featurette concentrates not on Transporter 2, but the forthcoming Kiefer Sutherland actioner The Sentinel!
Elsewhere the disc also offers up a brief blooper reel and a host of deleted, extended and alternate scenes, although most of these amount to little tweaks here and there whilst nothing particularly stands out as overly different. Plus we have this underwhelming package rounded off by various trailers for other Fox product, including a sneak peek at X-Men 3.