Whether or not Transporter 3 was given the greenlight just so next year a trilogy boxset could be released and producer Luc Besson can survive the credit crunch on its sales, it’s not going to do Jason Statham’s career any favours. After the first movie in 2002 proved he could bulk up as an action star and the second three years later was an uncomplicated sequel featuring more high speed chases, frenetic shoot outs and hard-hitting fight scenes, here Statham returns as beefcake delivery driver Frank Martin following a four year gap in the series.
When The Transporter raced onto movie screens, Jason Statham was hardly a name on everyone’s lips: his performances in Guy Ritchie’s early offerings Lock Stock and Snatch had certainly shown he could play the fast-talking Cockney and produce a menacing stare, but no one would have thought he would be an ideal action hero until he was flexing his muscles fending off bad guys while half naked and covered in grease. Suddenly he was a man not to be reckoned with and quickly became the British hard man on call for major action releases. It would seem fair to say he doesn’t need another entry in The Transporter series to keep going, nor least one that makes little sense.
The problem comes in the neglect at making Transporter 3 an easy ride for viewers.
Frank is quietly enjoying time to himself with his police inspector friend Tarconi (Francois Berleand) while another black Audi driver is eluding police down narrow French streets in his trademark style. However, when the same man crashes through his lounge wall with a girl in the backseat, Frank’s attempts at retirement are soon brought to an end. His services are demanded to deliver Valentina (Natalya Rudakova), the kidnapped daughter of a Ukrainian government official, from Marseilles to Odessa on the Black Sea. To ensure he gets the job done, he and Valentina are electronically tagged so they cannot move more than 100 metres from the car or detonate liquid-based bombs on their wrists. Of course, Frank isn’t going to just put on his black suit and get on with the job, he detours from the route on various occasions and must face off all manner of enemies on the road, at gun point and in hand-to-hand combat to give this film any point at all. The problem comes in the neglect at making it an easy ride for viewers.
Transporter 3 has all the hallmarks of a film put together will little thought for the audience beyond easy-to-please fans: it’s an action film too keen to rush to the high octane sequences and the chemistry between Frank and Valentina is cheesy and forced in equal measure. Common traits of many an action movie when considering their reliance on stunts and a dash of romance amongst a paper thin plot, you might think, but sadly here director Olivier Megaton exerts very little coherence during the fights and car chases as quick editing and confusing camera angles cause confrontations to judder along and it is unclear exactly who is doing what. The original made it obvious what was happening and injected humour too as Frank managed to out-run a plane and parachute onto a moving lorry. Here he manages to use a BMX bike to catch up with his hijacked car, speed through a factory and break through the driver’s window to push the hijacker out the passenger door in a similarly OTT moment, but set against a laughable plot twists which will have you shrugging your shoulders and a love interest so eager to please she pops a couple of Es and gets drunk it quickly becomes very embarrassing for all involved.
Transporter 3 is a tiresome offering that even Statham seems to struggle to hold much interest in as wave after wave of thugs line up to be taken down: Frank Martin is probably going to stay in retirement now.