After the second ‘Transporter’ flick I was a bit surprised to see that they came up with the loot to make a third one of these things, and it’s not like any of these ‘Transporter’ movies are bad but from my vantage point they are all, including the first film, have been rather lackluster. So action star Jason Stratham, who has gotta be one of the toughest looking 5’6" 150 pound dudes working today (IMDB lists him at 5’10" which seems EXTREMELY generous) dusts off driving fool Frank Martin in another go-around to deliver some package and break all those precious rules of his and subsequently kick plenty ass in ‘Transporter 3’, maybe the best of the lot, but still a little on lackluster side.
As the film opens I think Frank Martin is supposed to be in retirement or something as he and the laconic Inspector Tarconi (Francois Breleand) are on some lake in France casting lures. Meanwhile a friend of Frank’s named Malcolm (David Atrakchi) is in the process of delivering a package, a job Frank turned down and has thus recommended this ‘friend’ of his to do the deed. Now I’ve only seen Frank deliver a couple of packages in the past, but each one has really ended up about as bad as it gets so one has to wonder what kind of dude would shunt any kind of job to a ‘friend’, particularly one who has never done this kind of thing before. Not good looking out Frank.
So Malcolm finds himself in plenty trouble and drops in on Frank, so to speak, wearing a Sci-Fi bracelet and toting along a red haired freckled Ukrainian chick named Valentina (Natalia Rudakova) in the back seat. Not to spoil it for you but we won’t be seeing ‘friend’ Malcolm no more and next thing we know Frank is KTFO’d, introduced to our heavy interest in Mr. Johnson (Robert Knepper), strapped with his own fancy exploding sci-fi bracelet and deposited in his super Audi with instructions from Mr. Johnson to deliver a package in the trunk. And for grins and giggles he has to take
along the red-headed freckled Ukrainian chick who also happens to be wearing one of those fancy explosive bracelets. The bracelet is just Mr. Johnson’s form of insurance, so to speak, because if someone wanders 75 feet away from the Audi they go kablooey.
Why all this is happening is a little vague but it all has something to do with some Ukrainian Minister (Jeroen Krabbe) of something or another objecting to some evil corporation dudes importing tons of toxic waste into his little country. Frank, the red-haired girl, the package in the trunk and their relation to each other will all be explained in short order but in the meantime there are spectacular car chases, fast moving 1 against 100 fist fights, some death defying James Bond type escapes and finally… love, as Frank Martin does that thing that he does.
This movie was produced by Luc Besson. I don’t know who the chancellor, prime minister, president or whatever of France is, but I do know who Luc Besson is and I’m guessing that you can’t get a movie made in France unless Luc Besson says it’s okay. So as I said, ‘Transporter 3’ isn’t a bad movie and it certainly has the prerequisite car chase scenes, a couple of decent if not hard to discern Cory Yuen choreographed fight scenes, lots of bullets flying every which-a-way and an explosive ending, but it is still a run-of-the mill, completely forgettable action movie. To be honest with you, if I hadn’t seen the Besson produced ‘Taken’ before I had seen ‘Transporter 3’ I probably would’ve liked it a lot more, but Pierre Morel’s ‘Taken’ was a grand example of an action film done almost to perfection where ‘Transporter 3’ was merely functional entertainment.
One of the things this particular version of the ‘Transporter’ series lacks is that you never have the feeling that Frank Martin is any kind of real danger. Whether he has to fight 40 dudes with metal poles twice his size or is facing down another 40 dudes with sub-machine guns, you know he’s coming out of it okay. I gotta admit that when Frank was facing down those 40 dudes with the machine guns on either side and his plan was to drive off a bridge into a lake with a bomb strapped to his wrist, that didn’t seem like much of plan, but how he managed to wriggle out of that one was pretty clever, if not completely, ridiculously unbelievable. The whole ‘love’ angle was a bit forced as well, partly because it just seemed out of place in this movie and also partly because Jason Stratham and Natalia Rudakova have absolutely no chemistry together. But then I’ve seen virtually every movie Jason Stratham has made and he doesn’t have a lot of chemistry with anybody. Except maybe Jet Li.
What’s good about the movie is that director Oliver Megaton keeps the action moving and the pace brisk, with the exception of the slow downs in the narrative to further the ‘love’ or explain the less than satisfying pro-environmental garbage plot. Stratham might not be rangiest actor around but he does play his one note like maestro and whoever that dudes personal trainer is, he’s definitely on his A-game.
‘Transporter 3’ is what it is, and that’s a completely disposable, but also a completely acceptable Saturday afternoon style action flick which will adequately serve as nice diversion to the problems of the real world. A world where these problems can be solved by a little dude with an awesome set of abs and sweet ride.