REVIEW: Transporter 3 [2008]

“Boss, can I say something?”

Was Transporter 3 really directed by a guy named Olivier Megaton? I mean how perfect is that? In a film, let alone a series, that seems to enjoy using as many accents to confuse the audience as possible and action that diverts us from actually thinking about the thin plot, this guy has it all—European flavor and what seems to be the amount of explosives used on the film. Really, though, what does one expect going into a film like this? Myself, I look forward to the action, the one-liners, Jason Statham oozing cool, and attractive women who may or may not be able to kick butt themselves. Does the third installment deliver on those promises? Of course it does, and, truthfully, does it better than the last one. I will never say that this film is anything close to realistic or believable, but compared to the insane stunts utilized in Transporter 2, this thing is steeped in realism. I think grounding it in some semblance of authenticity helps keep interest without giving the audience those moments of, “give me a break”. But again, you don’t see these films for true-life lessons; you see them to pump the adrenaline and live vicariously through a guy like Statham; the kind of guy you wish you could be, if only you had that commitment to a workout regime.

If you sit down in the theatre ready for a taut story devoid of plotholes, why are you even leaving the house? Honestly, I don’t think you are in any shape to drive yourself anywhere—commit yourself to a hospital and get better. The Transporter series works for me because I know going in that my brain has been left at home and I’m ready to sit back and enjoy some mayhem. I’m not alone either, I’m sure. How do we get a third one if that was the case? And how does Luc Besson, a highly regarded writer/director, stick to his guns and continue writing them? It’s because men do need a little escapism once in a while … and I’m sure the ladies don’t mind a shirtless Statham running around saving the damsel in distress either. Admit it girls, you love him.

With that said, if you don’t know what capacity our leading lady plays in the story after the first second, you REALLY left your brain at home. The “revelation” of who she is and what she stands for around the three-quarters mark should not be a surprise, and shame on you if it is. The real question is how long will it take our man Frank Martin to take down the bad guys and help his favorite French Inspector Tarconi apprehend the bad guys. We don’t need stellar line delivery or emotive faces. Statham is the best actor of the bunch and he just utilizes a stone-cold, blank canvas stare through the entire thing. That stoicism says it all. But I lie, he isn’t the best actor involved, that award goes, by far, to Robert Knepper as the man behind the dirty deeds, Johnson. If you know him from “Prison Break” you should be in for some enjoyment. He takes the evil core from his T-Bag character, strips off the Southern hick mentality and accent, and delivers straightforward villainy. His trademark lip licking stays intact and his penchant for feeling nothing at the hand of random killings shows his true colors, despite calling himself a “Pacifist”.

It all revolves around some conspiracy pertaining to large amounts of waste, toxic garbage that needs to be stored/disposed of. Whose country is the culprit? Why should the Ukrainians take care of it? Why should we as the audience care? I have no clue to any of these questions, and the beauty is, you don’t need to know either. The impetus behind the mission and bloodshed is completely irrelevant, serving only as a catalyst to get high-speed car chases and bare-fist brawling with ten against one odds—always favoring the lone man when Frank Martin is in attendance. The fight choreography is great as usual, even if it seems a tad redundant from the past two. And the car chases? That’s the only reason I even want to see these movies, and I hate the car world. Thankfully product placement reigns supreme and we only had to deal with Audi, Mercedes, and Range Rovers. Even I can keep track of three models.

As for the acting, well the opening scene on a ship transporting the elusive waste says it all. These extras are so bad you have to cringe for them. Not only that, but the next scene introducing Statham and François Berléand’s Tarconi is kind of painful too. It is edited weird; Statham’s playfulness is stupid with his “Please Tarconi? Please?” at the end; and Berléand himself is almost unintelligible. Thankfully it is cut to a car chase to help alleviate the pain. But, as I said, the primary players are up to snuff and young Natalya Rudakova is introduced to the world with success. She really doesn’t have to do much but look sexy, and well, she does. And really, that level of superficiality is what’s needed for a film of this ilk to succeed. All I can say is that the surface was sleek enough to keep my interest and if for some reason the world needs a fourth installment … yes, I will probably be there for the fun again.

Transporter 3 6/10 | ★ ★ ½

photography:
[1] Jason Statham (“Frank Martin,” left) and Natalya Rudakova (“Valentina,” right) star in Lionsgate Home Entertainment’s Transporter 3.
[2] Jason Statham (“Frank Martin,” left) and Robert Knepper (“Johnson,” right) star in Lionsgate Home Entertainment’s Transporter 3.

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