Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Transporter Gay?

Originally published at SpoutBlog:

Transporter Gay?

Since I’m not a fan of Luc Besson any more than I am of Guy Ritchie, I’ve avoided the “Transporter” franchise from the start. Sure its star Jason Statham has a to-kill-for bod, but then that’s part of the action hero job description. And compared to hot he-men with a wicked, up-for-anything gleam in their eye like the Governator or The Rock or Daniel Craig, well, Statham’s just a little too bland for my taste. He’s someone you’d take home to mom for the holidays, not blow in an airplane bathroom along the way, having to dodge dirty looks at baggage claim upon landing. Never mind.

But after reading Chris Lee’s “L.A. Times” piece, in which director Louis Leterrier claims to have added a gay subtext to Statham’s character in “Transporter 2,” I knew I just had to take a peek. And surprisingly, for someone who can spot a gay subtext from as far away as David Beckham can score a goal, I couldn’t quite see what all the fuss was about. Statham’s gun-for-hire Frank Martin is too asexual to be homosexual; if he is gay he’s so far in the closet that even Alessandro Gassman’s sleazy, sexy villain Gianni Chellini (now that’s a name to scream in the heat of passion) couldn’t coax him out. Indeed, if there is anything queer about “Transporter 2,” it’s the character played by Italian stallion Gassman (a dirtier, XXX version of Antonio Banderas) who should be exposed.

Well, perhaps “exposed” is the wrong word, for this man has a hard time keeping his clothes on (I’m not complaining, just stating the facts). The dark-haired, muscle-bound hunk spends nearly the entire film shirtless, sometimes completely naked, with water dripping from his skin as he emerges from the pool, making me wonder if he’s envious of his fellow countryman Rocco Sifreddi’s international, porn star career. And it is in fact Chellini who gets the seductive, come on lines (not to mention Kate Nauta’s androgynous blonde moll Lola who looks like David Bowie in his prime). In the near final showdown between Chellini and Martin it is Chellini who, after injecting his body with every last drop of the only solution to a lethal virus, taunts Martin with, “I am the cure for what ails you. I’m the only cure for what ails you. I am the antidote.” In other words, Martin must partake of Chellini’s bodily fluids if he wants to save the young boy who’s been infected (i.e., the world!) Of course, rough trade Martin remains clueless so Chellini coyly prompts, “Perhaps I can help you out. What part are you a little – how do you say? Thick on.” To which Martin replies, “You. Why?” (Though I guess that could explain Martin’s earlier response of “Who isn’t?” to his employer’s wife’s apologetic “I feel so lost, so confused,” after he’d dismissed her sexual advances.)

While there are no voluptuous, steamy females in “Transporter 2” (Amber Valletta’s Audrey is a pretty MILF not a nasty slut) there is a scene in which Martin wields a fire hose like a whip, taking out the baddies one by one, MMA-dominatrix style, which is more BDSM hot than outright homo. Martin does pursue Chellini with all the vengeance of a love-struck stalker, right up into the air on a private plane, but once again, it is Chellini who talks dirty when he discovers Martin onboard. Pulling out his big loaded gun he purrs, “Have a seat. Relax. Drink something and let’s get to know each other,” sliding a cocktail the dim stud’s way as if it’s happy hour at Splash. All in all, “Transporter 2” is more borderline bisexual than it is blatantly homo like the remake of “Casino Royale.” Which is why for those casting the next Bond villain I’ve got two words – Alessandro Gassman.

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