Transporter 3 Directed by: Olivier Megaton Cast: Jason Statham, Natalya Rudakova, Robert Knepper Running Time: 1 hr 40 mins Rating: PG-13
Plot: Personal driver Frank Martin (Statham) is hired to transport a Ukrainian minister's daughter (Rudakova) who has been kidnapped by an evil American (Knepper) that is attempting to bribe the European country with toxic waste. However, an explosive device attached to Martin restricts him from being any more than 75 feet away from his car.
Who’s It For? People who don't own DVD players and a type of membership to some form of movie rental business. Seriously, if you're really revved up for Transporter action, just rent the previous two.
Expectations: I'm always down for some butt kicking, especially when Jason Statham's involved. Fully aware of the reality-defying thrills in the trilogy's previous two films, I hoped for an exciting third round of action-goodness that would also serve as some type of dessert to a recent viewing of Quantum of Solace.
Jason Statham as Frank Martin: I've been defending Jason Statham for a long time, but Transporter 3 has me questioning my faith. With Crank, The Bank Job , The Italian Job, Revolver and even Cellular I turned a blind eye to the fact that all of his characters are essentially clones. Perhaps my constant boredom with this particular film opened my eyes to the truth. Regardless, a few singular moments, scattered throughout, allow Statham to sneak in bits of his trademark bald-headed bad-assness. Score: 5
Natalya Rudakova as Valentina: Apparently Rudakova was discovered on a New York City street one day by co-writer Luc Besson, six months before shooting. This couldn't be more evident - her lack of experience reeks in every scene. For the first half of the film she is mute, using one facial expression to express grief, fear, anger, and amusement. During the film's second half, she becomes a blabber mouth, especially after seeing Martin take his shirt off (which happens while he's fighting, nonetheless). From there on she might try to actually provide background to her character, but in reality we all know she only exists so that the transporter can have an excuse for more car chases and bullet dodging, etc. Talk about excess baggage. Score: 2
Robert Knepper as Johnson: Many villains in action movies are vanilla casualties to a script more concerned with how they die over everything else. Johnson is yet another bad-guy with sarcastic charm, who speaks out insipid one-liners when not carrying out his evil plan. And dude? Goatees aren't menacing. They're barely even hilarious anymore. Score: 3
Talking: Before Johnson executes one of his failure thugs, he states "as the great American Donald Trump says: "'you're fired.'" Worse than that, Valentina speaks broken English with the cohesion of a toddler. "You're the gay!" and "Make playtime for me" are dollar-store laughs that substitute for actual humor. Score: 3
Sights: Though brief, the action sequences are edited with surprising coherence, which is something more than Quantum of Solace or even The Dark Knight can claim. Every kick and punch to the head is refreshingly visible. Other than that, there's not much to look at...though this might be the first film where we see Jason Statham fishing (NOTE: This is NOT worth price of admission). Score: 5
Sounds: Soundtrack wise, the film has heavy usage of what sounds like over-synthesized contemporary Euro-dance-pop. In a random chase sequence, the placement of Iggy Pop and the Stooges' "I Wanna Be Your Dog" is a sad reminder of Jason Statham's better days (the song was also used in Lock, Stock, And Two Smoking Barrels). As for score, syrupy piano keys that gently plink are used every time Valentina has "an emotional moment" with Martin. However, one of these discussions is based solely around what food she likes to eat. Score: 3
Though it continues the franchise's style of absurd, logic-bending action, Transporter 3 lacks the excitement and innovation that the trilogy requires to keep its audience interested. Scenes of hand-to-hand combat are brief, and each "surprise" the film arrives right on cue (after Action Hero A has dispatched a handful of thugs, a large henchmen appears and beats up the protagonist for a few seconds before meeting his own demise). It's lazy, formulaic writing that thinks Statham skateboarding a bicycle or driving his car on two wheels will offer enough thrills - forgetful that these stunts aren't that exciting when performed by a character who's nearly invincible. To offer its audience a genuine surprise, one wishes this driving movie would just pull a Vanishing Point and have Jason Statham drive head-on into a giant roadblock - a move that would also put this beaten down franchise to its long overdue rest.
To my dismay, Transporter 3 probably has about four minutes of the "action-goodness" I had been anticipating. The film's so-so action scenes can wait until DVD - or even better, Youtube.
Final Score: 3/10