The Transporter (PG-13)
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Caution: potential spoilers.
It starts with a car chase. Probably one of the coolest car chases I've seen, but then again, they're always pretty cool. And rarely all that memorable, in the long run, as far as I'm concerned. So I dunno. But it was fun to watch, anyway, fairly stylish. There was this guy (Frank Martin), who is known as "the Transporter." Or maybe just a transporter. Whatever. He takes jobs, doesn't ask questions. He has a set of rules he follows. At the start of the movie, he was working as a getaway driver for a group of bank robbers or whatever. And so, we get to see that he's pretty awesome in that capacity. Of course, once his job is done, it's done, and he has nothing more to do with his clients.
And so, it's on to his next job, after resting up at home. It's a nice home. I wanna call it a villa, but I don't really know anything about such things. Anyway, it's set in France (Marseille, I think). I should mention that there's this French police inspector named Tarconi, who often stops by Frank's place. They seem to be on friendly terms, except that Tarconi obviously knows Frank is involved in some kind of illegal business, which Frank of course always denies. He is, in fact, retired from the army or special forces, or something. (I'm not clear on what his nationality is supposed to be, but not French, anyway.) Whatever, at some point he got tired of the people he worked for constantly screwing up the missions they sent him on, I guess. So now he's a freelancer.
Anyway, his next job is to transport a package to some criminal known as "Wall Street." (I never actually heard this or any name for the guy in the movie, I read it online while writing this review. I suck at catching names in movies, actually I never heard Frank's last name, either, and the only other person's name I remember hearing was Lai... but I'm getting ahead of myself, and none of this matters, anyway.) Um... so, whatever. One of Frank's rules is that he never opens the package he's delivering. However, it didn't take him long to find out the "package," in this case, was actually a young woman named Lai (who we like; okay, I didn't get far ahead of myself). He breaks his rules by displaying some small degree of concern for her well-being, but not much. He does deliver her, and supposes that to be the end of the job.
However, his car later gets blown up, so he goes back to his last client's place, beats up his security, and steals one of his cars. And soon finds Lai is hiding away in the car. He takes her back to his place, but he's quite irritated that things are getting more complicated, and he's becoming caught up in something he doesn't want to be, because of her. And, before long, Wall Street sends guys to shoot up his house quite badly. Frank and Lai barely manage to escape. And she wants him to help her stop Wall Street, who we soon learn is working with her father, to transport slaves...
And that's pretty much all of the plot I feel like revealing. In fact, that's pretty much all of the plot that there is. Good guy fighting bad guys, trying to stop their evil plans. It's been done, with minor plot variations, in countless action movies. And it's often pretty cool. It's not really my kind of genre, cuz it just gets old, and I like more complicated stories. But this one wasn't bad. Even I'm not immune to the allure of explosions, I just like them in moderation. Car chases are fun. Fight scenes are fun, and this movie has some really amazing fight scenes. They don't get much cooler than this unless Jackie Chan or Bruce Lee are involved. And I did think Wall Street was an okay villain. Not great, but at least he held his own when fighting Frank, better than most of his henchmen did (they were almost all pretty worthless, though maybe that's just because they're not used to fighting someone remotely as skilled as Frank.)
So, there's not much more I can say. The plot is fairly irrelevant, it's all about the fight scenes, but those were cool. However, I also liked Lai... not so much as a character as in someone pretty to look at, unfortunately. But it did seem like there could be some backstory there that would have been interesting to delve into, if this was the kind of movie that did any delving. Still, the best parts of the movie, in my opinion, were the interactions between Frank and Tarconi. There was a kind of subtle, charming humor and ease about their relationship, I felt... a certain je ne sais quoi that almost made it feel like a different kind of movie. Something at once simpler and more complicated. I dunno. Eh. Something French, you know? (It is, after all, a French film, written by Luc Besson, so that makes sense.) But, in the end, it was mostly an action movie (I originally included it under "action/adventure," but later moved it to the new "badass" category). And I should say, it spawned a couple of sequels, which I may like to see someday, but I'm not that interested. Time will tell....
Oh yeah, I also wanted to mention that early on, Frank kinda vaguely reminded me of Roger Smith from The Big O. And upon later reflection, perhaps his relationship with Tarconi rather reminds me of Roger's relationship with Dan Dastun. But that's just me making totally weird, out of left field connections....