With Transporter 2, all the speculation can finally be put to rest: Frank Martin is the new James Bond. Not in the Pierce Brosnan sense, though. See, Martin isn’t an actor, but rather the ass-kicking, monosyllabic driver at the center of what’s gearing up to be a sweet little action franchise. A third installment is blatantly set up at the end of 2, itself a follow-up to the 2002 original, and chances are a slightly forgiving audience will welcome the promise of more. Maybe not of the terrible CGI, which makes an out-of-control airplane look like a toy being yanked around on a string, or of such sometimes laughable dialogue as “I’m going to blow you into tomorrow!” But such typical action-flick faux pas are a lot more pardonable when in the company of Brit Jason Statham, whose citizen-of-the-world-accented Martin is self-possessed, dryly funny, and just plain cool in his well-tailored duds and sparkling black Audi. Yeah, the car is different from the one in the first flick, but Martin’s impeccable driving skills haven’t changed, even if they do seem to, um, take a back seat to the fight scenes choreographed by first Transporter director Corey Yuen. After his low-key temp assignment of chauffeuring a government official’s young son (Hunter Clary) is complicated by evildoers trying to take out the kid’s dad (Matthew Modine) with a deadly virus, Martin must find the antidote—not to mention a bunch of new ways to launch his ride into the air. Modine is wimpily ridiculous as a VIP, though not as absurd as the oily, hair-smoothing leader of the bad guys (Alessandro Gassman) or his scary girlfriend, Lola (newcomer Kate Nauta), a Pink clone who wears lingerie instead of clothes and likes her artillery as heavy as her eye makeup. Director Louis Leterrier (Unleashed) and writers Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen load the movie with outrageously impossible stunts, from Martin’s removing a bomb from his car’s undercarriage with an airborne twirl to his knocking out a dozen bad guys with nothing more than a limp fire hose and some impressive martial-arts moves. It’s all pretty silly, completely over-the-top, and definitely flawed, but Transporter 2 moves as quickly and thrillingly as its hero’s vehicle—just the thing, in other words, to make you stop caring about who’s gonna be the next what’s-his-name. —Tricia Olszewski

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