The influence of “Lock stock…” & “Snatch” pervades the opening 30 minutes of this Jason Statham headlined film. A cracking opening complete with lashings of black humour and a refreshingly (almost) pixel free standout car chase nail the intentions of this action thriller to the aerial of the featured BMW 7 series.
Statham plays the titular “Transporter”, moving items with no questions asked, to wherever they need to go. The character appears to have carved a very tidy career within rigidly self imposed rule sets – Number 3:- “Never, ever open the package”.
Crime is obviously paying rather well as home is a cinematic Nice` villa, overlooking the Mediterranean. The grudging respect & “laissez faire” attitude of the local Police superintendent Tarconi (Francois Berleand) ensures life is sweet, as long as “work” is kept discreet & within certain unspoken parameters.
Regular movie fans will of course realise that any clearly outlined rules will be broken in short order and this movie does not mess with that cinematic staple. An agreement is made to transport a particular package which subsequently necessitates breaking rule No 3. This provides an attractive female side kick in the shape of Lai (Qi Shu) who proceeds to mess up the well ordered lifestyle carefully built up over many carefully planned years.
After the sparkling and inventive opening there is a general move to a more formulaic approach but it’s still executed with wit and a refreshing attitude to on screen violence. Sure, lots of people get shot and kicked about in some considerable style but there are no slow mo’ bullet entries/exits and on many occasions, the main character takes the “voter friendly Terminator” route of disabling rather than wasting his seemingly inexhaustible supply of opponents. There is a very enjoyable (albeit preposterous) scene in a bus depot which certainly impresses and amuses in equal measure.
The main villain, Darren “Wall Street” Bettencourt (Matt Schulze) is suitably malevolent and in a well played establishing scene comments, “I like him”- after the Transporter completes a job successfully on his behalf. An interesting aside, is the all but unnoticed manner in which he runs to meet the arrival of his delivered package, only to stop short and perfect a laconic swagger as befits his villainous status.
The high point first act, realistically, was unlikely to be carried through the entire film and this proves to be the case. The abrupt disappearance of the Superintendent just as his lines are getting better and better is also a loss to the film as a whole.
Minor gripes aside, excellent stunt work (with a nod to Indiana Jones at one point), a likeable lead character and suitably quirky leading lady, contribute to an efficient and highly enjoyable thriller.