Film Reviews


By • Sep 2nd, 2005 •

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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

QUOTE: Statham is a tougher, smarter, and sexier heir to Jackie Chan. Alessandro Gassman and his sexy S&M girlfriend, Kate Nauta, welcome to the U.S. We need you.

Frank Martin (Jason Statham) is a driver-for-hire. Instead of operating out of his headquarters in the French Mediterranean, Frank is now in Miami driving a cute 6-year-old kid, Jack Billings (Hunter Clary), to school. Jack’s father is an insanely wealthy drug czar and his mother, Audrey (Amber Valletta), is a neglected, frustrated wife. It’s a temporary position suited for a man who doesn’t talk much, has no friends, no lovers, and is someone who can leap tall buildings, dodge machine gun bullets, and drives like a demon. He doesn’t need a gun.

When he is overtaken by a killing machine named Lola (Kate Nauta), he is forced to allow kidnapper Gianni (Alessandro Gassman) take Jack for a $5 million ransom. Luckily for Frank, he has a “friend” from France, Tarconi (Francoise Berleand), who is arrested in his house and spends some quality time in a police station as they sort out his police credentials. Tarconi helps Frank track the kidnappers. The purpose of the kidnapping is not only a ransom; Gianni has been contracted to inject little Jack with an airborne virus that will kill anyone he breathes on. And Mr. Billings, who has paid the ransom, is set to address a huge international drug conference.

Frank has to find the antidote.

Driving a car that would make James Bond envious – a black Audi A8 that is invulnerable to car crashes or flying across bridges and tall buildings – Frank is masterful at using anything available to assault Lola and her team of assassins. Frank can drive that car even though he is being chased by every police car in Miami. When out of the car, Frank can crucify a brutal team of killers with a fire hose. The fight on the plane is thrilling and martial arts choreographer Cory Yuen has succeeded in pushing the outrageous, unrealistic fight scenes. But who cares if it is fantasy? No one even stops for a red light or gets anywhere near a bullet. Director Louis Leterrier knows how to excite. I actually shouted a few times.

The screenwriters, the film’s producer Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen, stay true to the stoic character of Frank Martin. The only humor comes from Tarconi, but it is dry and he is not the silly sidekick. Statham has now entered the movie star domain and Frank Miller is now a golden franchise for him. He has an appealing sex appeal and a strong cinematic presence. I personally want to see more of Gianni and Lola. Alessandro Gassman, do not be seduced by Hollywood and take a role as Sandra Bullock’s European boyfriend in a romantic comedy. You are a terrific villain. We need you. I still cringe at the feminized villain in the last 007 movie. And Kate Nauta? Keep Lola around for a few more movies.

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

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

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