Viking Night: The Transporter
By Bruce Hall
October 4, 2011
I’d like to start by saying that if it came down to me or him, it would be an honor to have my neck snapped by Jason Statham. I say this having just watched The Transporter again and feeling moved to honor the greatness of my favorite action star. Or maybe it was because after experiencing Statham Lite in last month’s Killer Elite, I felt compelled to reminisce about a simpler time. A better time. It was a time when there was still an economy. MTV still played music. Electric cars were still a fictional joke, instead of a real one. Terrorism was something that only happened in countries without electricity and “global warming” was a phrase reserved for nuclear weapons. And when it came to action movies, the men were men while the women were...well, kind of just there to be rescued by them.
Okay, maybe the good old days weren’t ALL good. But there’s still a warm, napalm drenched place in my heart for the Alpha Male Action Hero. He’s grim, remorseless, determined, and he’ll gladly break your head off your neck if you get in his way. At one point Arnold and Sly were the standard bearers for this kind of guy, but while they were entertaining in their prime, how accessible are they to the average Joe? How does anyone other than a professional bodybuilder get as freakishly huge as Arnold, and how many times did we have to sit through an improbable back story about how he got the accent? And I like Sly as much as anyone, but he’s a one note Johnny who rode the wave of goodwill from Rocky past the shore and ten miles inland. No, these are not real men. They’re cartoons.
This brings us to a new century, and to a new hero. This brings us to The Transporter. This brings us to Jason Statham - quite possibly the most awesome single individual walking the face of God’s earth today. Statham’s first movie was a breakout role as a grifter in Guy Ritchie’s gangster classic Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Despite not being a natural actor, Statham made for a memorable supporting player. But it was his background as an Olympic diver, male model and martial artist that made him a natural fit for the role of Frank Martin - the Transporter. What’s a Transporter? Why, I’m glad you asked. Gather ‘round and I shall tell you a tale...
Every now and then, someone in the criminal underworld needs a package delivered discreetly, no questions asked. Frank Martin (Statham) is a specialist in this field. He’s a gifted driver, and as an ex British Special Forces agent with a checkered past (like 99% of Statham’s roles), he has the skills to handle just about anything or anyone that might make for a late delivery. If it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight - and in ass kicking fashion - Frank’s your guy. He proves it in the film’s opening scene when he serves as wheel man for a bumbling gang of bank robbers and delivers them through a sea of equally bumbling cops to their destination, spitting in the distinguished face of Sir Isaac Newton and arriving without a scratch.
Frank’s a regular James Bond with his custom tailored suit, tricked out car and elegant seaside villa, but he’s not fooling one particularly gallant police detective named Tarconi (François Berléand). Tarconi shows up to question Frank after the bank heist, and their verbal game of cat and mouse seems so well worn you get the idea they’ve done this many times before. Frank, with his arsenal of rotating license plates and secret compartments, plays the part of a retired Army pensioner living off his disability on the sunny French seaside. Tarconi, because he’s a movie cop and not a real one, pretends there’s nothing he can do about it.
All that changes after Frank’s next assignment. Enlisted by a Mysterious Gangster named Wall Street (Matt Schulze) to deliver yet another Mysterious Package, Frank is on his way to the Mysterious Drop Point when a flat tire slows him down. This is the same car that ten minutes earlier was doing things my ninth grade physics teacher told me were impossible. But of course, if Frank doesn’t get a flat tire, he doesn’t look in the trunk. And if he doesn’t look in the trunk, he doesn’t notice something suspicious about his package. And if that doesn’t happen, he doesn’t break Rule Number Three. Wait, what rules, you say? Okay, I suppose now is a good time to cover The Transporter’s Rules of Conduct, Version 1.0:
1. The deal is the deal.
2. No names.
3. Never open the package.