Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Transporter

After watching Night At The Museum 2 we moved on to the next Netflix queued DVD, The Transporter. I know everyone else saw this years ago but we just got around to it. I had no idea what to expect, apart from Jason Statham and action-adventure and Luc Besson; I didn't know if it was sci-fi, modern suspense, time travel, post-apocalypse, or what. And the title didn't afford many clues.

I liked the start. The character of the transporter was interesting in his precision and strength of will, and the very narrow focus of his service and his skills. And it seemed like an interesting setup for all kinds of ways to drag him into stories (though with the regrettable story element of him being unwilling to get into them and having to be forced -- an overused motivational twist that becomes increasingly burdensome the longer the sequels come).

And the resulting story was a solid action-adventure with all the expected elements, plus the usual Luc Besson bits of campy absurdity, such as the overchoreographed fight scenes with the most implausible twists. Somehow, it didn't quite come together for me, though. I never really got drawn in. This is something Luc Besson usually manages for me -- he puts all the ingredients onto the table, but it fails to gel.

It's not like I dislike when the action gets goofy and straddles that line between action and parody of action -- plenty of other movies that sit on that line, including the Die Hard movies, True Lies, and the campiest of all, Last Action Hero, are perennial favorites. I liked the lead character and the police investigator was also well-played. (The female lead was a cardboard cutout MacGuffin, but I expect that from Luc Besson, and the film can survive it.) The story was uninspired but serviceable.

It might have been nice if the transporter's unique skills and precision had proved more central to the movie: it mostly just got him into the plot and then was largely ignored while he was a generic badass action movie hero. That's the only thing I can point to that really strikes me as a let-down. (Though I couldn't help but notice so many similarities in one action sequence to a parallel one in the first Indiana Jones movie that it bordered on being an homage.)

All in all, I don't regret the time I spent, and I will probably give the sequels a try, but it's not going to be on my list of things to periodically rewatch.

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