Frank Martin tries to live by a strict set of rules. The highly trained ex-Special Forces officer offers his driving skills (and his black, tricked-out Audi A8) to anyone who can afford him. He’ll deliver anything anywhere, no questions asked. However, as revealed in the first Transporter movie, if the job risks innocent lives, his conscience compels him to protect them first.
Now living in Miami, Frank finds himself chauffeuring the 6-year-old son of a wealthy and powerful businessman. Although he’s quick to point out it’s not the kind of driving he normally does, he finds himself bonding with young Jack Billings. So when a group of kidnappers succeeds in nabbing the boy in spite of Frank’s considerable efforts to stop them, he swears to Jack’s mom that he’ll keep his promise not to let them hurt the tyke.
With the police hot on his trail as a suspect in the kidnapping and the baddies trying to gun him down, Frank’s frantic investigation reveals that the sleazy killers are up to something far deadlier than kidnapping. Now he must find a way to stop them from spreading a deadly virus and get his hands on the antidote before it kills thousands.
Though he’s technically a mercenary, Frank’s no-nonsense integrity provides the movie its only weight. He’s absolutely committed to saving and protecting the innocent no matter the risk to his own wellbeing. He even makes a point of not doing more harm to bad guys than is necessary, including a group of random carjackers who try to take his sweet ride.
Additionally, he teaches young Jack to treat people with respect, and he rejects the sexual advances of a tipsy married woman he’s attracted to “because of who I am.” She eventually thanks him for respecting her.
When top baddie Gianni succeeds in doing something particularly evil, his girlfriend, Lola, says, “You’re the devil.” Gianni responds, “I wish.”
Aside from a couple of women who show some cleavage and the rebuffed (non-graphic) advances of a married woman toward Frank, most of the sexual content is provided by Lola. The rail-thin right-hand woman and girlfriend of the villain is self-diagnosed as mentally ill. She demonstrates this by wearing her underwear (a small bra and panties) throughout the film. It doesn’t matter to her if she’s involved in shoot-outs and martial arts combat, or if she’s dancing in front of a group of rapt men, underwear is all she likes to wear. At one point she says something to Frank about the “pleasure they could have” while holding a gun on him. Then she licks his face in a way meant to be seductive but which is actually quite silly. She and Gianni kiss a few times before and after implied sex; the camera pans up her body while she lies alone in bed strategically covered by a blanket (her bare back and part of her side is seen). When she gets up, she exposes part of her backside.
Transporter 2 is all about action violence. Aside from brief pauses for plot developments, it’s basically a string of quick-cut car chases, shoot-outs and kung fu confrontations. Thankfully, while barraging moviegoers with often unbelievable and cartoony action, the filmmakers show some restraint by limiting the blood and body count. Usually, the camera avoids showing us the results of deadly gunshots and often pauses to let us notice when someone has survived a car crash or blow to the head. Having said that, gun shots, car crashes and blows to the head (and other body parts) are near-constant. In close combat, men are stabbed with glass, a ladder and a needle. Arms appear to be broken. Faces are bloodied. Stock henchmen are acrobatically rendered unconscious by Frank’s flying feet and whatever he can find lying about. Stuff blows up. One villain apparently dies on a wall of decorative spikes, though we don’t really see how. (Note to would-be villains: Best to avoid pointy things in your interior design scheme.)
Considering the genre, there is also surprising restraint shown in the amount of bad language—if not in its selection. Profanity includes one f-word, six or so s-words, and a smattering of “a–” and “son of a b–ch.” Jesus’ name is improperly interjected a couple of times.
Several characters drink. A couple smoke. One married woman comes on to Frank while apparently drunk.
Frank, a suspect in the kidnapping, fights and disables police officers in order to continue his quest to save Jack and the world.
Some movies are unintentionally hilarious. That’s how I remember the first in this series. After an impressive opening action sequence, the story and the fight scenes and dialogue contained in it just got sillier and sillier until a friend and I were actually giggling in the theater during the climactic confrontation. With my expectations duly lowered, Transporter 2 turns out to be just as ridiculous, but much less amusingly so.
The film is best viewed as a comic book movie or a cartoon. That’s the only level at which the unbelievable action, spotty acting and terrible dialogue can possibly work. Even then, most of the car chases and martial arts scenes are confusing and redundant. Cars launch into the air for no particular reason, fly incredible distances and land either with perfect precision (Frank’s car) or crash into other cars (anyone chasing him). Frank can seemingly dodge bullets, and a group of bad guys all run out of ammo at exactly the same moment when it’s time for Frank’s one-on-12 hand-to-hand combat scene. Some fight sequences are so badly edited it’s impossible to tell who hit whom or how Frank disabled the bad guy.
Jason Stratham does succeed in giving Frank some dimension as a man of believable bedrock integrity with genuine emotion seeping through his hard-as-steel determination. And that laudable moral center would almost be enough to make Transporter 2 a passably comic diversion if it weren’t for too much choreographed violence and for Lola strutting her aggressively garish sexuality through so many scenes. Almost. Lola or no, broken bones or no, this near-parody of an action flick just can’t jump high enough to overcome its flaws.