*** (out of 5)
November 26, 2008
Jason Statham as FRANK MARTIN
Natalya Rudakova as VALENTINA
François Berléand as TARCONI
Robert Knepper as JOHNSON
Jeroen Krabbé as LEONID VASILEV
Directed by: Olivier Megaton
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
I’ve been slacking on my not-so-classic action movies lately. While I saw “Transporter 2” a few years back (and, to be honest, I saw it because I had to as a critic, not necessarily because I wanted to), I never went back to watch the first “Transporter.” So, this review is going to carry a similar disclaimer I made in 2005 when I reviewed “Transporter 2.”
I can’t tell you whether “Transporter 3” lives up to the first film. I can balance it against the sequel, and in that respect, it’s a better film. So take that for what it’s worth.
This is Jason Statham’s third run as Frank Martin, a professional driver who will transport any cargo, no questions asked. The movie opens in Europe, with Frank fishing with his friend Tarconi (François Berléand). It’s a good alibi for him because across town, there’s a high-speed chase between police and a black Audi. Later that night, the Audi crashes into Frank’s apartment – literally – and Frank recognizes the driver as a colleague he recently recommended for a job.
Before Frank can react, he’s knocked unconscious. When he comes to, he meets Mr. Johnson (Robert Knepper), who assigns a transporter job to him – drive a package to an undisclosed location, guided by a secret GPS. Frank has to take the job because he’s been fitted with a wristband that explodes if he moves more than 75 feet from his car. Along the way, Frank gets to know his passenger, a mysterious and sexy woman named Valentina (Natalya Rudakova). But while he drives, Frank tries to uncover the mystery of the job in order to save his and her lives.
Where “Transporter 2” was an over-the-top, ridiculous action film, “Transporter 3” is a little more subdued. That’s not to say that it’s low key. There’s plenty of action, plenty of car chases and plenty of martial arts fighting (which, for some reason, involves Frank stripping off his clothes and uses them as weapons).
As an action piece, “Transporter 3” works. The story doesn’t slow down too much anywhere, so the film plows ahead with plenty of excitement. And the action is more believable than before. There really wasn’t any moment where I threw up my hands and quit the film.
The story’s pretty thin, but that’s to be expected from a “Transporter” movie. Part of what makes Frank Martin compelling is his mystery. We see his softer side at times, as he reaches out to friends across Europe to help him solve the mystery. However, Statham still plays him as your basic tough guy who doesn’t crack a smile.
Natalya Rudakova, the new freckled-faced siren of this film is okay. She’s now famous for being plucked from obscurity to star in the film, and some sultry magazine spreads are sure to be on their way. I’m not a big fan of the freckled girls, but anyone looking for the Eurotrash equivalent of Lindsay Lohan won’t be disappointed. (And this begs the question… Can Lindsay Lohan be considered the Ameritrash equivalent of her former, innocent self?)
I can’t say I was bored with “Transporter 3.” Don’t go expecting any plot. Any at all. Just look for some excellent action, a badass Jason Statham and a red-headed sexpot.
If you do this, you won’t be disappointed. After all, what else would you expect from a film directed by a guy with Megaton as a surname?