These days, if you see Jason Statham’s name attached to a project, there’s a 99% chance you know exactly what you’re going to get. The actor has cultivated a well-earned reputation as one of the industry’s most notable ass-kickers, a persona he’s diligently built over 20 years and dozens of mid budget action thrillers.
The genesis of the Statham we know and love today can be traced right back to 2002’s The Transporter, which was just his seventh feature film credit ever, his first time taking top billing and his maiden voyage into straightforward running and gunning, having previously co-starred in the sci-fi tinged Ghosts of Mars and The One.
The setup is painfully simple; Statham’s Frank Martin is indeed a transporter, except his cargo tends to be dangerous weapons and occasionally even people. When he’s hired to kidnap the daughter of a Chinese crime lord, he finds himself drawn into a fight for survival after breaking one of his cardinal rules.
The Transporter wasn’t a massive hit at the box office, earning less than $45 million on a $20 million budget, but it found a solid second life on home video and proved popular enough to get a pair of sequels. Almost two decades later and it’s gained a new appreciation on HBO Max, where it’s the third most-watched title among customers in the United States, as per FlixPatrol.