Lowdown: A mercenary in inner turmoil after breaking his own rules.
This is actually a first for me: In a first time ever move, I have rented a film that I have already rented in the past. The winner of this dubious honor is The Transporter (initially released in 2002), and the reason for this unconventional move was me wanting to see this kick ass film in full Blu-ray glory. The idea did come to me after reading a review of Transporter 3, now playing at the cinemas, which made me reminisce. Indeed, just as I suspected, The Transporter kicked ass yet again.
As plots go, The Transporter's one is almost inconsequential, despite some meaning that can be found if someone looks really hard at it (as indicated in the above lowdown). We have ourselves a hero, an ex British commando guy (Jason Statham), who now works as a professional mercenary driver and takes on missions of dubious character to make his living in the French Riviera. In order to live with his conscience intact while serving the wrong side of the law Statham has a set of rules he asks his clients to follow. It all falls apart one day, though, when after a hard day at the office Statham finds the package he was instructed to drive with no questions asked actually contains a sexy woman of Far Eastern appearance.
His employers don't really like him breaking his own rules and getting involved, so they try to kill Statham; only that Statham doesn't die easily, and at the end of a hard day's night he shows them villains where fish pee from and kicks some serious ass in the process.
Kicking ass is what The Transporter is all about, which is probably why I keep on using the phrase. Forget the plot, forget the characters, forget everything; nothing really makes sense and everything has as much credibility to it as a cheap comic. It's all about the action scenes here, and they are all about exaggeration and flashiness; it's a style thing. But it's so over the top it actually works, and it works wonderfully to create a super entertaining (if shallow) experience.
On a personal level, the fact this film is set in the Riviera (and in particular the opening scene set in Nice), an area that wins my personal award for being the most wonderful area I have had the pleasure to visit, definitely increases the appeal of The Transporter through that exotic factor. I mean, what's better, the film's hero living in some gray American city the way most action heroes do, or on the Riviera eating French food and driving in some of the world's curviest roads?
Best scene: Our introduction to Statham is through him driving a stylish BMW to escape the law with some dumb bank robbers. That's one car chase scene you won't quickly forget, and one hell of a way to set us in that unique Transporter frame of mind.
Silliest scene: There's tough competition for this award, but the prize has to go to the scene where Statham fights it out, martial arts style, with a bunch of villains who seemed to have forgotten to bring their guns to the office. In order to have an edge against his numerical inferiority Statham spills machine oil over the arena and over himself, and then goes down a slippery slope to beat the crap out of the baddies. Now, as silly as this sounds, in the context of The Transporter it is one of many action scenes that just work well.
Technical assessment: This Blu-ray's picture is good but there are some color inconsistencies between the scenes (probably the fault of the original) and some grain (showing the age of the copy used for the transfer?). On the soundtrack side, the DTS HD soundtrack is good, but for an action film the sound is remarkably lacking in surround envelopment; the surrounds are mostly used for the French style theme music.
Overall: French style action that, as evidence indicates, is so good you will come for more. 3.5 out of 5 stars, but much more entertaining than this score indicates.