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MRQE Top Critic

Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life

Lara punches a shark, rides a motorcycle on the Great Wall of China, and dives off a skyscraper —Matt Anderson (review...)

Jolie fits nicely into Lara Croft's boots

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The Transporter was an action movie with a good balance of plot and action: not too much plot, plenty of action. For the sequel, director Louis Leterrier (Unleashed) takes the reins from Corey Yuen (who returns as fight choreographer and second unit director).

The result is not good. Both movies are a little over the top, but the first film was lean and mean. The second has a much bigger, sillier plot; far too many computer-generated special effects; and not nearly enough straightforward action in the fight scenes and in the driving scenes.

A Promising Start

Too much CG makes Frank a dull boy
Too much CG makes Frank a dull boy

Frank the transporter (Jason Statham) is now in Miami, Florida. He has a brand new black Audi, and he continues to drive for a living. These days, he’s picking up six-year-old Jack (Hunter Clary) from school and driving him home.

It’s pretty uneventful work until Frank drives Jack to a doctor’s appointment and the doctor says in broken English, “trust me. I am doctor.” That, plus three or four more clues, make Frank realize this is all a setup. He grabs Jack just before the “doctor” can inject him with a nasty supervirus, and the naughty “nurse” (Katie Nauta) opens fire with two automatic pistols equipped with silencers, laser sites, and infinite ammo.

It’s an exciting, scenery-chewing rescue scene that bodes well for the rest of the movie. But the promising film starts to lose its grip, and by the end it has slipped so far that it is not worth saving. The hint of yet another sequel is a final cry for help that one can only hope will go unanswered.

Too Much and Not Enough

Half of my audience seemed to like the movie pretty well. They applauded and laughed at all the right places. But the appreciation wasn’t universal, and it was not well deserved.

Case in point: Frank jumps his car, executes a perfect roll in mid-air, scraping a bomb from the undercarriage, and lands without a scratch. That’s something I’d really like to have seen. Instead, what I saw was a closeup of the car gaining speeding, a closeup of the car becoming airborne, a computer-animated cartoon of the car brushing against a metal hook, and then a closeup of a car landing. I couldn’t swear that the stunts were any more impressive and less fake-looking in the first movie, but these stunts — digitally “enhanced” with computer-generated cartoons — are unimpressive both to me and to half my audience. (If you think such a stunt would have been impossible to create, I call your attention to a 30-year-old James Bond film, The Man with the Golden Gun, in which just such a jump was executed without any computer assistance. )

The fight choreography has a similar problem. There is too much editing and not enough choreography. There are two or three excellent hand-to-hand sequences, including one that involves a fire hose. But even this one is choppily edited and probably more faked than choreographed.

Silly Villain

The plot, too, is a disappointment. It takes up far too much screen time, and it’s downright silly. The kidnapers’ boss is an evil Colombian drug lord (that’s so ‘90s). His henchmen have developed a deadly, highly contagious, very photogenic green virus, along with its color-coded antidote. As though the kidnaping plot weren’t enough, this supervillain’s goal is to kill all the drug enforcement personnel at a conference in order to operate his cartel more freely.

As silly as his plan is, the dialogue is often sillier. On rare occasions, it’s so bad that it’s good, but more often than not, it’s just plain bad.

Tough guy: (emerging from wheel well of the private jet) Your flight’s been cancelled.

Supervillain: (pulling a gun) I’m sorry to inform you that YOU have been cancelled.

(Fistfight in cartoon of crashing jet ensues)

Transporter 2 had potential. It features the work of some talented people, and in some places it succeeds beautifully. But too much CG and too much editing make Frank a dull boy.