19 November 2011 | pfgpowell-1
Hamlet it ain't but of its - very limited kind - better than many
Films such as Transporter (and, I should imagine, Transporter 2 and Transporter 3 unless there has been a dramatic change of heart by their producers) highlight one of the dilemmas of IMDBs user ratings system. All the films I come across here have, without exception, been given the 8/10 and 9/10 ratings which only the truly devoted award. And each of of those films has also earned the very pitiful 1/10 and 2/10 ratings.
On the one hand, praise such as 'awesome, dude, truly awesome' and 'real genius, dude, this is the real sh*t' are bandied about like beer at a truckers convention, on the other those same films get also '90 minutes out of my life I'll NEVER get back!!!', 'this SUCKED big time, man!!!' and 'this would get 0/10 if the system allowed it' from other, less enchanted viewers. All that is only to be expected and - cliché alert - wouldn't the world be a duller place if we all thought the same. But what do you do when you see a well-made, entertaining piece of complete schlock which stands head and shoulders about its peer films and then a well-made, very moving and thoughtful film which is unlike the schlock as cheese is to chalk? In all honesty there can be no comparison, yet both deserve a high rating.
Of its kind, Transporter does stand out. But it does so without characterisations and plot entirely. What vague storyline there is simply the help the hero, in this case Jason Statham, roar from one fight to the next. In in Transporter's case it works. Why, I have no idea. Certainly, the producers hired good talent, not least Luc Besson who has latterly made this kind of film his stock in trade. A great deal about this film boasts 'class', except, it has to be said, the film itself. But the point is it doesn't matter. You don't go to your neighbourhood hamburger joint and expect haut cuisine and you would be thought of as dim-witted if you then criticised the joint for not reaching haut cuisine standards.
So those who like this kind of thing, the Transporter movie will get their money's worth and then some. And it would be futile, not to say ineffably silly, to criticise Transporter for being utterly and ludicrously over the top. Because, of course, it is meant to be utterly and ludicrously over the top. It succeeds and stands out for several reasons. One is Jason Statham, the Transporter. I like Jason. I have now seen him in three films and I'm on his side. If Jason gets through his day job by not taking it seriously, he doesn't show it. But nor does he give the impression of believing himself to be 'an artist'. He has a certain quality about him which, if not unique, is rare. He knows what he can do and, presumably, what he can't do, and doesn't pretend. With Jason you feel what you see is what you get. And I like that. I could, of course, be completely wrong, but somehow I don't think so, and it is that certain honesty which comes across on camera and helps to raise what is at heart pretty mediocre material rather higher. Jason gives value for money. If Jason flipped hamburgers, you could be pretty sure they would be stand-out, top-dollar hamburgers. And it is that quality which carries the film as far as I am concerned.
In another's hands the role he takes would go bear-shaped quite soon (although that is not to say there aren't other men about with the same quality as Jason. There are other 'hard men' out their - Vin Diesel and Steven Seagal, although I haven't seen a film by either - but I doubt whether any of the others would carry it off as Jason does. So there you have it: Transporter is not The Merchant Of Venice, On Golden Pond, ET, Schindler's List, The Godfather or any of the other films which get consistently good ratings. It is just another macho piece of b******s. The important difference is that, of its kind, it is rather more impressive (in that way rather like anther Luc Besson scripted film, District 13). Hence my high rating.