dir: Louis Leterrier
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Again, I got suckered in by a goddamn tv commercial. I don't know how the marketing people keep doing it to me, but when it comes to sub-standard martial arts / gun-fu orientated films, they know just what to put in to get me interested, and there on opening day. I'm ashamed of myself.
This is a dumb film. Dumb as a box full of hammers. Dumber than a locker room full of football players. But is it big dumb fun?
The other thing that burns me about being suckered in by the trailer was the fact that there are scenes in the trailer that have been edited out of the film. And that there are obvious overdubs and cuts presumably to lower the MPAA rating as well, which is funny, though they never stooped so low as to do the "melonfarmer" substitute that I adore so much.
When the film works (which is for 30 minutes of its overall length), it's on fire. The fight scenes and various action scenes are well choreographed and Jason Statham looks suitably professionally hard when he is belting three shades of fuck out of the various bad guys. I need me some of the chewable steroids they've been feeding this guy, because he looks like a lean, corded, vicious machine. He also seems pretty good in the action sequences in terms of looking believable as a fighter.
I was almost going to say that this film represents a departure for Jason Statham in that he doesn't really get or need to display any acting chops in this dumb film, but then I remembered that his last four films have been dunderheaded action vehicles. He is obviously hoping to become a bit of an action icon, which
is all right by me. We need a new generation of steroid heads to replace aging icons like the odious Van Damme and the Austrian lunkhead Arnold. If Jason Statham be the man, then I don't mind, because he is a decent actor as it is, and would be able to carry the dramatic elements of a role as long as they weren't
written by a crack addicted monkey. Which in this case they apparently were.
Again, make no mistake, this is a profoundly stupid film which, in the non-action scenes, contains at least one howler line of dialogue or irrational act of 'fantasy' per scene in a film that is certainly not. The film makes little logical sense, and the way what I shall laughingly refer to as 'the plot' tries to create significance through its slavery / people smuggling / father daughter conflict is just insulting to the intellect. Anyone that says "But it's just an action film, it doesn't have to make any sense, you're judging it with unfair criteria" etc
etc really needs to have both their head and their life examined.
The plot for this film was derived by watching one of those short films that BMW commissioned to act as the ultimate in product placement. I guess it's not product placement when the existence of the 'film' is predicated upon the existence of the product. In that I guess they're less 'short films' than 'extended advertisements'.
Regardless, some fuckwit watched one of those whilst probably snorting cocaine off the butt crack of some teenager, and decided to make a film with it. Apparently he called Luc Besson first, talked dribbling shit for hours before getting to the point, eventually boring Besson into going ahead with it. Luc Besson has a writing credit for this film. If he genuinely wrote it, then the man who made Subway, The Big Blue, La Femme Nikita and Leon: The Professional is an idiot. Not just a bit of an idiot either. We're talking about the kind of idiocy which requires a mother to be binge drinking all day whilst she is pregnant to produce something of this magnitude.
See, though he did make The Fifth Element, which I hate utterly and without question, I don't believe that Besson is an idiot. I think that since he made Messenger: Joan of Arc, something may have happened to his brain. Perhaps the critical savaging made him cry so much that his brain became dehydrated. Perhaps it was having person after person tell him what a dumb move it was to try to have Milla Jovovich carry a film. There has to be some fundamental film law that says it is unwise to direct your
girlfriend or wife in a movie. I believe Guy Ritchie is learning all about that right now :) Unless you're Joel Coen, of course, who seems to do all right with Frances McDormand, in fact gets her best work out of her.
But apart from that something seems to have happened to Besson since Messenger. From 1998 onwards he has avoided directing any of his own films and has only had a hand in writing / producing. The films have been uniformly ordinary, and have also abandoned any attempt at genuinely connecting with an
audience the way he did with Leon.
I thought he'd reached the lowest point last year being connected to the thick-as-shit Kiss of the Dragon, but I should have realised that Rule No. 4 = As stupid as films can be, there is always someone, somewhere contemplating the making of something even dumber.
This film is, for all intents and purposes, a Hong Kong actioner made in France. Let me just go off on a tangent once again: Hong Kong film from the eighties to the early 90s is a vastly overrated era of filmmaking. The law that states that 95% of films are crap would be doubly applicable to Hong Kong film if such a thing was possible. For every half decent action film put out in Hong Kong there were a thousand others that were so bad that it would make you shoot your television after watching them in order to put it and yourself out of misery.
That being said, there were a handful of decent films that came out which are the pinnacle of the time and represent the ideal of why the Hong Kong sensibility intrigued people all around the world.
Corey Yuen choreographed the fight scenes and made many of those films during the 80s and 90s. He was never a great director, but he made a few tolerable films (the best of which, for my money was Fong Sai Yuk which again starred Jet Li). Fong Sai Yuk was ripped off mercilessly for years to come due to the superb action fight scenes in novel and difficult circumstances for years to come. The stunts were inspired. Okay, so the dramatic elements were worrying, even downright silly. And the spousal abuse stuff was just downright bizarre. But it was still a very well made action film.
I don't really blame him here. At least the fight scene choreography is well done and mostly well shot. The rest might as well have been directed and scripted by a sheltered workshop full of stumbly wumblies and other mental defectives.
Qi Shu is a young Taiwanese actress. Apparently. She is in this film as the love interest. She is adorable. She can't act for shit, unfortunately. Why she is kidnapped and put in a bag is a mystery for me until she opens her mouth. When that happened I fully understood and wished that they'd kept her in the bag until film's end.
None of the other people really stick out. They're not really named, and few of them are on-screen for too long before they die. The IMDB cast list runs something like "Thug 1, Thug 2, Thug 3, Boss, Leader, Little Thug, Giant Thug" which shows the level of thought that went into scripting this.
I'm not going to bother mentioning anything else to do with the plot. But I will list the dumbest aspects of the film.
Apparently, not content with constant placement for the BMW they decide to advertise its advantages just one more time: in so far as it appears that someone, if they were so inclined, would be able to fit the bodies of two full grown French cops in the boot of a BMW. That's a big fucking boot.
It also appears that if your car blows up in France, and you happen to have the bodies of two cops in your spacious boot, the remaining police will quietly ask you a question or two about it in heavily accented English, and then leave you to your own
If you open your car boot, unzip a bag and find a girl inside, and this romantic music starts to swell up in the background, you know you'll be having sex with her soon. But for now, put her back in the bag, and back in the boot. Which still has two cops in it.
If you're a hardened, brass-balled professional, and some creepy guy gives you a package, and I know, as an audience member, that there is a bomb in the attache case yet you do nothing about it, then you're a fuckwit. Still, put it in the boot. With the cops :)
The only beer in France is one called Tiger. I know this because in every scene where beer appeared, it was Tiger. In one scene where the action finds itself inside the office of some warehouse (why? I don't fucking well know), all these henchmen are sitting around looking lazy and indolent. Around them on every possible
ledge space is an empty bottle of Tiger beer. Not only that, I might be mistaken, but there is an empty Tiger beer carton and even a poster on the wall advertising Tiger Beer. Jeez, I'm starting to feel like a drink right about know. I wonder what I should buy...
If you're going to be fighting a room full of guys, grease yourself up. Or down, as the case may be. This will aid in lubricating yourself for those deep, penetrating blows (?). Of course, of all the guys that want to fight you, the ones with guns will wait outside the room until you've kicked the shit out of the twenty or so guys taking you on, big boy (admittedly the scene is hilarious and well done).
Dialogue is for wimps, but dialogue delivered by a French Columbo type guy despite its indecipherability is cool.
If your lead actress is provoking laughs from the audience every single time she tries to deliver dramatic dialogue, you know you're on a winner.
Transporter is a dumb name for a guy, an occupation and for a film. He's a fucking courier. A transporter is a plot device on Trek that lets nerds fantasise about teleporting themselves into Seven of Nine's underpants.
Enough of that. Jason Statham is cool. He's cool because he doesn't look like your average action hero. He doesn't look as thuggishly simpleminded as your Vin Diesels or your The Rocks, but he can still seem like a tough motherfucker. I liked him in the film. He was the only thing I liked in the film. His characterisation was inconsistent and all over the place, but he was like a pit bull on acid and amphetamines during the action
scenes, so I can forgive him.
But I can't forgive the rest of the people that worked on this dumb fucking load of old cobblers. Your time and effort may be of little importance to you, but mine is important to me. And I can assure you all that I put more thought and effort into this review than anyone did on any aspect of the film not connected to the fight scenes.
Luc Besson, get it together you chump. You could have been a contender, you could have been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what you are becoming.
6 greasy, greasy men out of 10
"Trasnportation is a precise business" - The Transporter