Production Company: Europa Corp / Current Entertainment / TFI / Sea Side Films Florida
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Cast: Jason Statham as Frank Martin, Alessandro Gassman as Gianni, Amber Valletta as Audrey Billings, Katie Nauta as Lola, Matthew Modine as Mr. Billings, Jason Flemyng as Dimitri, Keith David as Stappleton, Hunter Clary as Jack Billings, Shannon Briggs as Max, François Berléand as Tarconi, Raymond Tong as Rastaman, George Kapetan as Dr. Sonovitch, Jeff Chase as Vasily, Gregg Weiner as Tipov and Gregg Davis as Techie at Billings
Crew: Louis Leterrier (director and associate producer); Robert Mark Kamen (co-writer); Luc Besson (co-writer and producer); Steve Chasman (producer); Elayne Keratsis and David Lai (associate producers); Terry Miller (executive producer)
Frank Martin (Jason Statham) is the best in the business. The ex-Special Forces operative hires himself out as a mercenary “transporter” who moves goods – human or otherwise. Very simply, he delivers…no questions asked.
Frank has relocated from the French Mediterranean to Miami, Florida, where as a favor to a friend, Frank is driving for the wealthy Billings family. There’s very little that can surprise The Transporter, but young Jack Billings has done just that; Frank has unexpectedly bonded with Jack, age 6, whom he drives to and from school. But when Jack is kidnapped, Frank must use his battle-tested combat skills to retrieve the boy and thwart the kidnappers’ master plan to release a virus that will kill anyone with whom it comes in contact.
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
When Twentieth Century Fox released “The Transporter” in October 2002, the film became a worldwide theatrical hit. Produced and co-written by acclaimed filmmaker Luc Besson, “The Transporter” became an even greater success on DVD. At the same time, the picture launched Jason Statham as Hollywood’s newest action star, with Frank Martin becoming Statham’s signature role.
Says Statham: “Everywhere I went, people would tell me how much they loved The Transporter and the character of Frank Martin. The Transporter is an especially important role for me because it’s influenced my career more than any film I’ve done.”
According to TRANSPORTER 2 director Louis Leterrier, who was Artistic Director on “The Transporter,” the original film’s appeal centered on Statham’s portrayal of the title role. “Jason really brought out not only the character’s amazing physicality, but Frank’s humanity, as well,” says Leterrier. “Jason plays Frank as a reluctant warrior. Frank wants to stop doing shady jobs; he craves an ordinary life. But fate likes to play tricks on Frank, and in the new film, he has to take on another ‘worst-case’ situation.”
Robert Mark Kamen, who authored both “Transporter” films with Luc Besson, agrees that much of the films’ appeal rests on Statham’s approach to playing the iconic figure. “Jason has humanity and decency; he makes both traits come alive in Frank Martin, even though Frank is as tough as they come.”
With “The Transporter’s” global success and the emergence of Statham as a movie action star, a follow-up film was not unexpected. Luc Besson envisioned TRANSPORTER 2 as being a movie event surpassing the original in scale and emotion.
Despite the success of “The Transporter,” and the filmmakers’ eagerness to reunite for a second film, TRANSPORTER 2 was not easy to put together. Statham had become one of Hollywood’s most in-demand actors; director Louis Leterrier, who had completed “Unleashed,” starring Jet Li, Morgan Freeman and Bob Hoskins, produced by Besson, was looking at other projects, and Martial Arts Choreographer Cory Yuen (who directed “The Transporter”) was working on several films.
Fortunately, the schedules of these key players opened up enough to allow their participation in TRANSPORTER 2. As Besson had conceived the project, TRANSPORTER 2 would up the stakes in action, drama and characterization – starting with The Transporter himself. “Frank has evolved from the time of the first film” says Statham. “There’s a lot more at stake, emotionally, for Frank.”
Statham enjoyed the mix of the character’s softer and tougher sides. “One day I’d being playing a tender, emotional scene opposite Amber Valletta [who plays the young kidnap victim’s mother]; the next day, I’d be taking on a team of international thugs in a massive fight scene. It was never boring.”
Like its predecessor, TRANSPORTER 2 features displays of Jason Statham’s impressive athleticism, honed by years of training in boxing, kickboxing and scuba diving. Statham’s martial arts skills and diving experience both came in handy for the film’s climactic set piece, involving a jet that has crash landed into the Atlantic Ocean.
Statham, who eschewed the use of a stunt man for even the film’s most intense action scenes, reveled in the character’s physicality. A special treat for the actor was getting reacquainted with the high-speed driving skills he acquired while making “The Transporter.” “Driving that high-speed car was a real rush,” says Statham, who in TRANSPORTER 2 is behind the wheel of a black Audi A8. “But I’ll admit that training for and performing the stunts was easier the second time around. This time, I knew what I was in for!”
As he did in the first film, Statham worked with Cory Yuen’s hand-picked team of fighting and action choreographers. “Cory knows Jason’s potential and how to push his physical limits,” says director Louis Leterrier, who worked seamlessly with Yuen on both “Transporter” pictures. “I provided Cory wih the entry and exit points for the action, and he filled in everything in between. Cory and his team tell a story through the action.”
Upping the emotional stakes in TRANSPORTER 2 is Frank’s interaction with young Jack Billings (newcomer Hunter Clary). “Frank is such a disconnected character, we thought it would be fun to have him drive for a youngster,” says Robert Mark Kamen. “Frank has no real experiences with children. Jason’s scenes with Hunter are really interesting, because Frank treats the boy like a grownup – that’s all he knows how to do!”
Besson and Leterrier surrounded Statham with a talented ensemble. Amber Valletta, who played an heiress who falls for a portly accountant in “Hitch,” portrays Audrey Billings. Audrey’s vulnerability – her fears for her child’s safety, and her growing attraction to Frank – hide an inner strength that lets her challenge some actions of the federal agents investigating the youngster’s kidnapping.
Matthew Modine, whose long and distinguished career includes films by Stanley Kubrick (“Full Metal Jacket”), Oliver Stone (“Any Given Sunday”) and Robert Altman (“Short Cuts”), portrays Audrey’s estranged husband, Jefferson Billings. Billings’ newly-acquired position as drug czar, figures into his son’s kidnapping and the perpetrators’ strategic and lethal moves.
A counterpoint to Valletta’s maternal, yet fiery Audrey, is Kate Nauta’s villainous Lola, described in the script as “a homicidal maniac in a supermodel’s body.” Nauta, a real-life model, was discovered by Besson, who has long been known for his keen eye for talent (Natalie Portman, of Besson’s “The Professional,” is among his discoveries).
Joining Nauta in on-screen villainy is noted Italian actor Alessandro Gassman, son of the late, renowned actor Vittorio Gassman. Alessandro plays Gianni, the mastermind of a plot that begins with a child’s kidnapping and which ultimately threatens the lives of thousands. English actor Jason Flemyng, who was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,” takes on the role of a Russian doctor, Dimitri, whose medical expertise is critical to Gianni’s plans.
In a key link to the original “Transporter,” acclaimed French actor François Berléand returns in the role of Tarconi, a French police detective. In the first film, Tarconi suspected that Frank’s transporting activities were connected to illegal activities. Despite being on opposite sides of the law, Frank and Tarconi developed a growing respect for one another. As TRANSPORTER 2 opens, they have become friends, with Tarconi visiting Frank at the latter’s new home in Miami – to surprising results.
“I enjoyed returning to the character,” says Berléand. “This time, Tarconi isn’t the knowing police detective; he’s out of his element. In TRANSPORTER 2, Tarconi is overwhelmed by what he thought was going to be a friendly visit and vacation.” Adds Robert Mark Kamen: “Tarconi is a fish out of water. All he wants to do is see Miami Beach, but he minute he arrives he’s arrested because of his association with Frank.”
The city of Miami also plays a key role in the film. “I imagined that Frank decided to quit his job as a transporter and move to the other side of the world – Miami – to seek a new life,” says Statham. For the filmmakers, the city provided the necessary color and beauty to complement the story’s non-stop action.
An unexpected display of nature’s beauty – and fury – literally swept away the filmmakers during several days of shooting in July-August 2004. The production was battered by two hurricanes and series of lesser, but still potent storms that blasted through the city with winds up to 200 miles per hour. At one point, the unit had to be evacuated to an underground bunker near the airport, to escape the onslaught.
Despite these weather challenges and ensuing scheduling shifts, the TRANSPORTER 2 cast and crew remained focused on completing production and bringing to life a new chapter in the adventures of The Transporter. Jason Statham thinks the film’s insights into the character could point to the way to even more stories about Frank Martin. “I think Frank’s potential has just started to be tapped,” he says. “There’s more to be explored.”
The Best In The Business Is Back In The Game.
When it absolutely, has to get there.
Release Dates: SEPTEMBER 2, 2005
Genre: ACTION / CRIME / THRILLER