*. The opening shot of Frank Martin (Jason Statham) sitting in his car in a parking garage establishes continuity. As do the names of Louis Leterrier and Corey Yuen, who again collaborated on the direction. Script co-written by Luc Besson, which tells you where the Nikita clone Lola comes from (as if you couldn’t have figured it out). But note one important difference. This movie is brought to you by the good people at Audi, not BMW.
*. What follows is more generic stuff in the same vein, but slicker, brighter, and more fun than the first movie. The hot chick in distress is replaced by the cute kid in distress. Exactly how the evil plot was supposed to work totally escaped me. Luckily, we’re not asked to spend any time thinking about it.
*. Instead we’re meant to look at stunts so silly they border on the surreal. A car jumping from the roof of one parking garage into another across the street. Or a fight with a fire hose that lets Yuen show off his Hong Kong-action chops at their acrobatic and whimsical finest. You can also enjoy looking at Amber Valletta (a model) getting all concerned about her kid, and Kate Nauta (another model) changing into a variety of different lingerie sets to cause some damage. Because she only fights in lingerie.
*. I mentioned being disappointed with the way Matt Schulze was disposed of at the end of the first movie simply by having him thrown out of the cab of a truck. A bloodier end was cut from the American release version. That happens again here, as Lola’s death has the blood cut out of it in order to score a PG-13 rating. This made it hard for me to understand that she was actually dead. Meanwhile, Alessandro Gassman’s Chellini has to be kept alive so that his blood can somehow be used to cure the plague he was looking to unleash on behalf of Colombian drug cartels so that they could . . . but I already told you I couldn’t figure this part out.
*. Chalk up one surprise. I was sure Matthew Modine’s character was in on the plot because (1) he seems guilty as hell, and (2) he has star billing after Statham despite the fact that he doesn’t have much of a role in the film. But no, he’s actually one of the good guys, and it looks like this trial has even brought his family together. Too bad. They seem like the kind of self-important plutocrats that made me hope global warming would speed up and wreck their trashy Miami mansion, just so I could see it washed away.
*. Well, like I say, it’s silly. But silly in a good way. Or in the way blockbuster genre action films were trending at the time. It plays well alongside the Mission: Impossible, Fast & Furious, and John Wick franchises. We’re just whipped along from one big rock ’em, sock ’em scene to the next. And these are well handled. I like the little flourishes like the camera spinning around the gear shift in the main car-chase scene. This happens so fast I didn’t even notice it the first time.
*. Apparently this was Statham’s own favourite film in the series. I am in complete agreement. When I think back on the action classics of the ’80s though I don’t think any of these movies compare. At least I can’t imagine any of them having the same staying power as Die Hard or even Commando. The stunts are more spectacular and the speed at which it all comes at you has been pushed into the red, but at the same time they’re even more brainless and superficial. Was this what the twenty-first century demanded, or just what it was going to get anyway?