I can remember the last second of Transporter 2 and how excited I was for the sequel. Well, it's here - and as an undeniable fan of this franchise, I'll sadly be the first to tell you that Transporter 3 not only kind of sucked, but that it's probably not even worth your time at all. You would think a guy named "Olivier Megaton" could direct a good action movie.
Director: Olivier Megaton
Starring: Jason Statham, Red-Haired Chick
This series has been known for its outlandish stunts, questionable acting, ludicrous plots, spectacular driving, terrible female characters, and awesome fight sequences. It's with a heavy heart that I tell you the filmmakers took this pre-existing formula and tossed the ingredients in a bad movie blender - the end result is way too cliche and doesn't nearly possess the right amount of brazen ridiculousness to make up for it. The elements that stood out as negatives of past installments (the useless Inspector with the maple-syrup-thick accent, awful dialogue, etc) are on display in full force here, and the aspects that make this series truly great seem to have fallen off faster than Statham's shirt in a fight scene.
Jason Statham returns as Frank Martin, the transporter whose set of rules separated him from others in his line of work in the previous two films. This time around, he breaks nearly every one of his rules for seemingly no reason at all - he seems flustered and emotional here, not like the calculating Martin we've known in the past. Obviously, no blame can be put on Statham here; it's the script that's the problem, but we knew that from the get-go. As implied above, you don't go to a Transporter movie for realism or drama. You go for the kick-ass factor which was sorely missed here. Statham was competent as always when it came to his hand-to-hand fight sequences, but the lack of meaningful car chases made it seem like anyone could have been driving his now-iconic Audi across Europe. Also, the gimmick to this one was that Statham couldn't get further than 75 feet away from his car or else his bracelet would explode. Sounds a little too much like Crank, guys - let's try to come up with something original next time.
Joining him this time around is without a doubt the most worthless and annoying character I've come across in 2008: Valentina, a red-haired Ukrainian whose broken English and vapid attitude was the cause of much dismay throughout our theater. In this character, the dialogue reached it's low point for the series. Inexplicably, she had a propensity to list random foods that she desired for mind-numbing lengths of time (the editors should be shot). The film also fell victim to a familiar case of "I've known you for a day but now I'm madly in love with you" disease, this time with a nasty Ukrainian aftertaste. She had very few (if any) redeeming qualities, and nagged our usually stoic transporter into disappointing submission. At one point, she implied that he was gay (a standard assumption by film critics), but then he had his way with her to prove he wasn't. I honestly would have preferred if Frank had just admitted to being gay, shoved her out of the car, and continued on his way to more action scenes. I guess that would have broken his perfect delivery record, but every other rule was broken at random in this movie, so why not that one too?
The thing that pissed me off the most about this movie was that somewhere among the nonsense, they had the makings of a really solid storyline. One of the plot points revolved around another up-and-coming transporter that Statham suggests to the villain (who was so bad, I'm not mentioning him again) early on in the movie's timeline. The idea that there are different types of transporters and seeing Frank interact with them is such a promising concept; perhaps the fourth one (if they make one) could be about the transporters competing for some sort of high profile job. It was cool in this one to see Frank as the mentoring transporter, the veteran who passes off unwanted jobs to the younger generation. If only they could have explored this angle more instead of concentrating on that inarticulate French police inspector, then this might have rivaled the second as the best film in the franchise.
There were flashes of brilliance to be found in Transporter 3, but as a whole they couldn't compare to the epic insanity of Transporter 2. The BMX bike scene (small clip here) was by far the crowd-pleasing favorite; he was one step away from pulling moves like these.
There were also a couple of car moves that can't be ignored, like crashing through the back of a moving train car after crashing through a guardrail to land on top of the train in the first place. Once again, none of these moves could compare to the awe-inspiring scene from the second one in which Frank removes a bomb from the bottom of his car in the most ridiculous way imaginable. And while the act of driving on two wheels is certainly impressive, we've already seen it before: in a Bond movie (Branz, help me out with this one?) and, if I remember correctly, in Last Action Hero.
I liked this more than I should have because of Statham's presence and simply the fact that it was another Transporter movie on the big screen, but I wouldn't recommend it to people other than huge fans of the series. Unfortunately, even those will be left unfulfilled. Until next time...