3 items from 2005
NEW YORK -- The filmmakers reveal their James Bond-like franchise aspirations a little too nakedly in this sequel to the 2002 thriller that became a sleeper international hit, but it must be said that "Transporter 2" really does deliver the goods. A fast-paced B-movie that features a series of spectacularly staged and choreographed action set pieces, this second effort starring British actor Jason Statham as the taciturn but deadly driver will no doubt surpass the original's boxoffice take and clearly pave the way for future installments.
Switching from a BMW to a stunning black Audi A8 that complements his character's standard uniform of black suit and tie, Statham again demonstrates his blend of charisma and physical prowess in his second go-round as Frank Martin, the former Special Forces operative who serves as a "transporter" for hire. Having relocated from the French Mediterranean to Miami, Frank has a temporary gig working for a wealthy couple (Matthew Modine, Amber Valletta), for whom he drives their 6-year-old son (Hunter Clary) to and from school. Much like Denzel Washington's similar character in "Man on Fire", Frank has developed a real bond with his young charge.
So he naturally springs into action when the tyke is kidnapped by a gang of ruthless criminals, led by a typically tanned Eurotrash villain (Alessandro Gassman, son of Vittorio) and his sexy homicidal girlfriend (Kate Nauta), who prefers to shoot her guns while wearing only her underwear. Tracking down the kidnappers while simultaneously avoiding the authorities -- thanks to his French buddy (Francoise Berleand) who is conveniently being held at the police station -- Frank uncovers a plot to ingest the kid with an airborne poison that will kill everyone with whom he comes into contact, including his DEA father.
The plot, of course, is merely an excuse for the nonstop action sequences, superbly staged by director Louis Leterrier and martial arts choreographer Cory Yuen (they were, respectively, the "artistic director" and director of the original). Highlights include a car chase taking place on the beach and a multilevel parking lot, among other locations; a race between a bus and a speedboat, the latter of which naturally takes to land; an amazing fight sequence in which Frank dispatches a gang of hoods with a fire hose; and a battle on a small jet that culminates with the plane crashing into the ocean.
The last episode well illustrates the over-the-top aspects of the action, which veers into outlandish Bond-style territory without having the budget to support it. The main character is such a compelling figure that he really doesn't need to be showcased in such credibility-stretching sequences, presented without a trace of tongue-in-cheek humor.
20th Century Fox
A Europacorp production in co-production with TF1 Film Production in association with Current Entertainment with the participation of Canal+ and TPS Star
Director: Louis Leterrier
Producers: Luc Besson, Steven Chasman
Screenwriters: Luc Besson, Robert Mark Kamen
Executive producer: Terry Miller
Director of photography: Mitchell Amundsen
Production designer: John Mark Harrington
Editors: Christine Lucas Navarro, Vincent Tabaillon
Martial arts choreographer: Cory Yuen
Original score: Alexandre Azaria
Costume designer: Bobbie Read
Frank Martin: Jason Statham
Gianni: Alessandro Gassman
Audrey Billings: Amber Valletta
Lola: Kate Nauta
Mr. Billings: Matthew Modine
Dimitri: Jason Flemyng
Tarconi: Francoise Berleand
Stappleton: Keith David
Jack Billings: Hunter Clary
Max: Shannon Briggs »
VENICE -- The best line in Abel Ferrara's murky and forgettable religious film Mary comes when a television journalist asks a movie star and director why he's made a film about Jesus Christ. "Gibson made a billion dollars!" comes the reply.
Unconvincing in all its premises, Mary, screened In Competition at the Venice International Film Festival, is shot mostly in the dark with little attempt to make things clear. Mel Gibson has nothing to worry about.
Forrest Whitaker plays the journalist, the first one ever to persuade an American network to devote a week's worth of primetime to talking heads examining the life of Christ. It's especially remarkable since he appears to be still compiling the shows just before they go on the air.
He appears not to be aware that superstar Tony Childress (Matthew Modine) is opening his epic This Is My Blood that very week and it's only when he meets the filmmaker at a screening that he invites him on his show.
Meanwhile, the film's leading lady, Marie Palesi (Juliette Binoche) has been missing, presumed to be in Jerusalem, for a year, having had some kind of religious trauma due to playing Mary Magdalene and being brutalized by Childress.
Ted's wife Elizabeth (Heather Graham) is close to a dangerous childbirth but she is conveniently Marie's best friend, so that when Ted decides to have Marie call in to his show to confront the director, she's easy to reach.
There is cross-cutting between indistinct scenes of Marie in the Holy Land, the film within the film, and Whitaker having an emotional breakdown, but it's hard to tell what it all means, if anything.
Whitaker and Graham do professional work as a couple threatened by the loss of their newborn. But Binoche can do nothing with her role as Ferrara does little to flesh out the character, so her fate is of no interest. And poor Modine is stuck playing a cocky film director who calls reporters Baby. Right. »
Emmy-winning writer-producer Tom Fontana has inked a premium two-script deal with Sony Pictures Television. Under the pact, Fontana will pen two drama pilot scripts for the studio targeted for the next development cycle, a procedural and a character-driven one-hour. This development season, Fontana co-wrote with Julie Martin The Bedford Diaries, an ensemble college-themed drama pilot for the WB Network starring Matthew Modine, Audra McDonald and Milo Ventimiglia. Fontana is executive producing the HBO Independent Prods./Warner Bros. TV project, which is contention for fall, with his producing partner Barry Levinson, Martin and Jim Finnerty. Last season, Fontana, Levinson, Finnerty and James Yoshimura executive produced Fox's well-received but short-lived legal drama The Jury. Fontana has won three writing Emmys, for penning an episode of NBC's Homicide: Life on the Street in 1993 and for co-writing episodes of NBC's St. Elsewhere in 1984 and 1986. This year, he was honored with a lifetime achievement award by the Caucus for Television Producers, Writers & Directors. Fontana is repped by UTA. »
3 items from 2005
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