"Transporter 2" returns Jason Statham as Frank Martin, the ex-Special Forces operative turned mercenary, a martial arts maestro with world-class high-speed driving skills. Armed with a specially equipped Audi A8 that would strike envy in the heart of James Bond, Martin is a "transporter," prepared to move goods or people with no questions asked and on-time delivery guaranteed. The stoic Martin, however, is a man with an unshakable code of honor prepared to go to mind-boggling extremes to keep his word.
Martin may not be Superman, but he's just as fearless while remaining wholly human. He's not afraid of gunning his car straight off a high-rise parking structure only to land on a similar structure across the street, and that's just the beginning of his exploits behind the wheel and in tackling villains on land, under the sea and in a plummeting airplane. Martin has moved from the French Mediterranean to Miami, and as a favor to a friend has signed up for a month's stint chauffeuring to school and back 8-year-old Jack Billings (Hunter Clary), son of rich, hyper-critical, workaholic Jefferson Billings (Matthew Modine), newly appointed as the nation's drug czar. Martin takes a fatherly interest in the bright, likable Jack, and the boy's mother, Audrey (Amber Valletta), a neglected, mistreated wife, in turn has a yen for the sympathetic but formidably principled Martin.
In the meantime super-villain Gianni (Alessandro Gassman) and his gang -- most important his sadistic, gunslinging mistress Lola (Kate Nauta), a heavily mascaraed, scantily clad maniac -- set up an elaborate scheme to kidnap Jack for a $5-million ransom. Martin senses there's a lot more behind the snatching.
Along with Statham's sterling presence, what makes "Transporter 2" so much fun are car stunt designer Michel Julienne and martial arts choreographer Hong Kong legend Cory Yuen, who's been on both sides of the camera as star, director, writer, producer and stunt man -- and was in fact director of the first "Transporter." Yuen, director Louis Leterrier and cinematographer Mitchell Amundsen, writers Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen and their entire cast and crew have collaborated seamlessly to create a slick, modern thriller that has the timeless, edge-of-your-seat appeal of a classic cliffhanging serial. Statham's Martin and Valletta's Audrey provide involving, dimensional characters, and there's some comic relief from Frank's visiting pal, a French police detective -- and compulsive gourmet chef (Francois Berleand), also from the first film. "Transporter 2" delivers a satisfying late-summer escapist treat.
MPAA rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violent action, sexual content, partial nudity and brief language
Times guidelines: Too violent and intense for youngsters
A 20th Century Fox presentation. Director Louis Leterrier. Producers Luc Besson & Steven Chasman. Screenplay by Besson and Robert Mark Kamen, based on characters created by Besson & Kamen. Cinematographer Mitchell Amundsen. Editors Christine Lucas-Navarro, Vincent Tabaillon. Music Alexandre Azaria. Martial arts choreographer Cory Yuen. Car stunt choreographer Michel Julienne. Costumes Bobbie Read. Production designer John Mark Harrington. Set decorator Barbara Peterson. Running time: 1 hour, 27 minutes.
In general release.