Long, long before Jason Statham urgently growls, "Jack's been infected with a deadly virus, Audrey!" you know what you're in for. A movie where wooden doors can stop machine-gun fire. Where cars base-jump buildings. Where will-work-for-food Lock, Stock alumni Jason Flemyng can play a Russian scientist. A movie, in short, by Luc Besson.
It's the latest knock-off from the kung fu chop-shop of writer/producer Besson, who's long since cashed in his promise as a fizzy visualist in order to marshal a conveyor-belt of genre riffs that involve a) Thumping people and b) Driving reallyreallyfast. Neither of which pose a problem for the Brit Bruce Willis in this inevitable sequel to 2002's action lunker.
With his immaculate suits, steely-cool, ruthless determination and hawk-like senses, Frank Martin is somewhere between a stubbly James Bond and the man Jack Carter might have been if mummy had given him more cuddles. A walking breeze-block who gargles broken glass every morning, he's as starched as his shirts - meaning it's a role ideally suited to Statham's endearing two-gear range (squinting/ not squinting). The Yanks, of course, love him. Why? Because there's a winning wryness to the Guy Ritchie fave that suggests he's always well-aware of the silliness of what he's doing. Here, he's really earning his beans.
In perhaps the first storyline this century to pivot around Columbian drug-barons, Frank must take on a gang of Euro-trash rent-a-villains bossed by oily über-thug Alessandro Gassman, whose dentist clearly doubles as his acting coach. With assassinatrix super-slut Lola (Kate Nauta) epitomising Besson's garters'n'guns B-movie mojo, Transporter 2 flunks gravity, logic and sense with happy, spastic confidence. All of which makes for a bad movie that's impossible to hate, as Statham batters hordes of inept gunmen, effortlessly dodges bullets and pulls off ludicrous stunts involving everything from Audis to jet-skis. Our favourite? Frank removing a car bomb by top-speeding his motor into a mid-air pirouette and catching the device on a dangling crane-hook. You'll laugh till your ribs shatter.
Stupidest movie of the year? Quite probably. But we're betting you'll see it ahead of the next Jim Jarmusch film.