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Dustin Putman

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Transporter 3  (2008)
1 Stars
Directed by Olivier Megaton.
Cast: Jason Statham, Natalya Rudakova, Francois Berleand, Robert Knepper, Jeroen Krabbe, Alex Kobold, David Atrakchi, Eriq Ebouaney.
2008 – 100 minutes
Rated: Rated PG-13 (for violence, some sexual content and drug material).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman, November 26, 2008.
"Transporter 3" is exactly what you would expect out of the third part in a low-rent action series that wasn't even good the first time around. Dropping "The" from the title for no detectable reason—did "The Transporter 3" sound too wordy for French director Olivier Megaton?—the film will only please the most undiscriminating of action fans. There are a few rattling explosions, a few car chases, a few fights, and a few stunts, but they all seem rather quaint in today's day and age, and don't even try to outdo the same elements of 2005's "The Transporter 2."

Frank Martin (Jason Statham) is now retired from the high-stakes delivery business, but he's forced back into the thick of things when a car crashes through his place and he is cuffed with a bracelet that will blow him to kingdom come if he moves more than twenty-five feet beyond the automobile. In the trunk are two bags he is supposed to deliver, and in the passenger seat is Valentina (Natalya Rudakova), the feisty, freckle-faced daughter of Ukrainian government official Leonid Vasilev (Jeroen Krabbe). As Frank and Valentina drive through the Eastern European countryside on a path that mastermind Johnson (Robert Knepper) has set for them and that Frank frequently defies, they begin to fall for each other. Correction: Valentina seduces Frank and he gives into her sexual demands only after she accuses him of being gay.

"Transporter 3" hardly makes sense—the bad guys' motive has something to do with toxic chemicals on a ship on the Black Sea and a written agreement that they are blackmailing Leonid to sign—and it is a testament to how uninteresting the whole enterprise is that I really didn't care to decipher it. Director Olivier Megaton seems almost burdened by the action set-pieces, and only tackles a few of them amidst a lot of chatting between characters. In one scene, Frank disrobes to fight roughly a dozen cronies of Johnson, who magically appear at the snap of a finger. The fight choreography by the acclaimed Cory Yuen is wasted, since it has been chopped up in the editing room. In another sequence, Frank lifts the car he is driving onto its left wheels in order to pass in between two trucks. The laws of physics clearly do not apply in the world of the "Transporter" franchise. Ludicrousness continues with an underwater scene where windows can be wound down and trunks unlocked and lifted, and a climax set on a train that might have been diverting were it not so tedious and unoriginal.

One of the busiest action stars in recent years, Jason Statham's (2008's "Death Race") scowling, humorless shtick has begun to wear awfully thin. Statham plays the same role over and over, and he has shown no desire to try different things or grow as an actor. A ripped body only goes so far in cinema before some extra glimmer of talent is needed. As love interest Valentina, newcomer Natalya Rudakova has a limp grasp of the English language but knows how to look great. To her credit, she at least brings some much-needed energy to the proceedings. Valentina is quite something: she pops pills, drinks from the bottle, and delights in squatting to urinate in the middle of a convenience store. A scene where she seduces Frank on an idyllic grassy hill—one could say that she undresses him with her eyes if he weren't already taking his shirt off every chance he gets—is trashy, yet undeniably sexy.

Haphazardly plotted and forgettable as an action pic, "Transporter 3" spends a hefty chunk of time concentrating on the getting-to-know-you relationship between Frank and Valentina. That they flirt by talking about food and little is learned about them besides their culinary preferences gives you an idea of how deep the love story is. Nevertheless, it's as deep as things get in "Transporter 3," a pointless, junky, lackadaisical product that should hopefully put the kibosh on another sequel.
© 2008 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman