The Transporter series has always lived in a world constructed from the most ludicrous of contrivances. The stories never make much sense and the action is usually so over the top that it is, more often than not, laughable. Transporter 2 made this work by embracing its own ridiculousness and having a lot of fun with it. Transporter 3 seems like it should be doing the same, but instead wastes endless minutes of precious screen time desperately trying to explain the inexplicable. Villains and police detective MacGuffins drone on and on, desperately trying to convince us this is a logical, sensible action film while at the same time inventing completely random reasons for Jason Statham to take his shirt off. This is not a real plot, and because it wastes so much time trying to convince us that it is, Transporter 3 also isn’t any fun.
If there’s anything good to be said for Transporter 3 it’s that at least, for once, Jason Statham’s Frank Martin character is actually transporting something. In theory Martin is a professional driver, a man of precision who will transport high-value cargo from point A to point B, without asking in questions. In practice, previous movies have rarely given Frank much opportunity to do any actual driving, inventing kidnappings and other excuses for him to get out of the car and kick doors down. For the third film they’ve solved that problem by, almost literally, tying Frank Martin to wheel of his car.
For reasons he doesn’t at first understand, Frank is kidnapped by a mysterious group of nefarious thugs and ordered to drive to various locations for unspecified reasons. In the passenger seat with him is a girl (Natalya Rudakova), who seems as confused by this whole mess as Frank is. To ensure Martin’s cooperation, the thugs in question have strapped a bomb to his wrist which, should he stray more than a specified distance from his automobile, will go off. Frank is stuck behind the wheel and he has no idea why. To make matters worse the freckled, drunken slut sitting next to him can’t speak English and yet absolutely will not shut up. While Frank eventually seems to find this attractive, for the audience being forced along with them for the ride, it’s torture. Maybe 100 minutes of incoherent babbling from an Eastern European prostitute is your idea of a good time, but it’s not mine. Shoot her Frank! Shoot her!
Eventually we do find out what’s going on, but it’s so silly that you’ll resent the time Transporter 3 wastes in telling you. And believe me, it wastes a lot of it. When the film isn’t wasting your time with awful bad guy monologuing or bumbling, unrelated police work, it’s engaged in a variety of fairly humdrum, often stupid action sequences. Frank rarely fights any worthy opponents and when he does it’s filmed with annoying quick cuts which limit whatever little excitement there is to be gained from it. The car chases aren’t much better. There’s a halfway decent sequence involving Frank on a bicycle, but the film’s only other automobile pursuit involves two cars driving slowly through the woods. With a plot this bad you really need to deliver big time stunts but Transporter 3 just doesn’t have that in it. This is the kind of movie where cars which drive off cliffs must instantly explode on impact and where bad guys attack one at a time, even if there’s ten of them standing around in a group. That says it all really. What a bunch of nonsense.
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