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Transporter 2

Okay, so there's a bomb attached to the bottom of your beautiful, custom-made Audi A8 super-car. Circumstances dictate that you have to drive off in it anyway, knowing that at any moment, the bomb will be detonated remotely. The question is, how do you defuse it while you're behind the wheel? And perhaps more importantly, how do you defuse it without getting scratching the paintjob? Jason Statham provides the answer in Transporter 2, and it's every bit as ludicrous as the mind could conjure. Here's a movie where a Eurotrash supermodel-type in raccoon makeup, lingerie, and stiletto heels opens fire with a machine gun in each hand and no one bats an eye, especially the unflappable Statham, who almost looks like he expects this sort of thing. A follow-up to the sleeper hit The Transporter, which seems relatively austere by comparison, the film chucks the laws of logic and physics out the passenger's-side window, and it's all the better for it.

Much like a James Bond movie, only more playful and entertaining than that series has managed in many years, Transporter 2 isn't a continuation of the last one, it's another action enterprise unto itself. The opening finds Statham working part-time in Miami as a chauffeur for drug commissioner Matthew Modine and his wife Amber Valletta, who give him the seemingly simple task of getting their son safely to school every day. But trouble always follows Statham, and it finds him during a trip to the doctor's office, where a pack of henchmen kidnap the boy and run off with a colorful liquid that could bring a pox on the city. Behind this ambitious scheme is drug kingpin Alessandro Gassman, the sort of evil genius who allows every line to swish around in his mouth like Tuscan wine. With the police suspecting his complicity in the kidnapping, Statham flees from the authorities while acting as a one-man army against Gassman and his well-armed cronies.

Though it neither talks nor solves mysteries—upgrades that will surely be implemented in time for Transporter 3—Statham's car acts as a graceful extension of his body, and just as he can't abide a rumpled thread on his dress shirt, he won't allow a scuffmark on the upholstery. Transporter 2 lands plenty of jokes about its hero's anal-retentiveness, but then again, it laughs at itself at every opportunity. The man pulling the strings behind this operation is co-writer/producer Luc Besson (La Femme Nikita, The Professional), who knows his way around the action genre well enough to recognize its clichés and excesses, and he exploits them for all they're worth. Any movie in which the hero decides to catch a speeding bus by commandeering a jet-ski should draw a smile from all but the humorless.

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