After retiring to an isolated life in France, driver for hire Frank Martin (Statham) believes his transporting days are over. But when a man he suggested as a replacement literally winds up in his living room, expensive sports car and all, our sullen hero finds himself back behind the wheel. His mission this time around? Deliver a package to the Ukraine, in time to stop a high ranking government official from cancelling a contract with some American energy interests. Seems the U.S. wants to use the former Soviet Union as a toxic waste dumping ground, and a concerned cabinet minister wants no part of the deal. Of course, when a Western thug (Robert Knepper) kidnaps his daughter Valentina (Natalya Rudakova) and holds her hostage, it's up to Martin to step in and save the day.
If Transporter 3 looks a lot like last year's failed video game adaptation Hitman, it's not hard to see why. Both movies use the former USSR as a backdrop for some incomprehensible international intrigue, and each film forced their enigmatic hero to cart an irritating Eastern bloc tart along for eye candy. On the pro side, this third installment in Luc Besson's attempted spy update still has human hormone Statham as its lead. He's much better and more butt-kicking than any balding Olyphant. But of course, pulling everything down is the producer's-girlfriend professionalism of the incredibly freckled Ms. Rudakova. When it comes to horny hot to Trotsky babes, we'll take the oh-so-slutty Olga Kurylenko over this ginger nightmare any day.
Also working against our derivative dose of non-stop action is the filmmaking incompetence of the mysterious Olivier Megaton. While his moniker suggests something akin to a stunt spectacle apocalypse, the reality of this behind the lens pretender is too painful to endure. Every fight is filmed with that already passé shakycam effect in full force, and then Master Megaton makes matters worse by editing the sequences like he's just suffered a series of mini-strokes. What we want from a title like Transporter 3 is breakneck excitement, incredible physicality, and enough awe-inspired knuckle busting to make us forget the lack of a cohesive narrative or solid characterization. Our nuclear namesake can't even get the adrenaline right.
Elsewhere, the script by Besson and Robert Mark Kamen makes the mistake of turning Frank and Valentina's in-route conversations into dull discussions of various food stuffs and the pluses and minuses of partying. We even get a mountaintop moment of amore between the pair. Yet all we really want is cars crashing into each other, muscles flexing in full blown battles royale, and the occasional illogical set piece. (The sad excuse for the latter offered here? A ridiculous vehicle-to-the-top-of-a-moving-train trick.) Audiences who love action -- any kind of action -- are used to trudging through awkward dialogue scenes and unnecessary downtime to get to the good stuff. Leave it to Mr. Megaton and Transporter 3 to mess up that material as well.
You can drop her off anywhere.
Run time: 104 mins
In Theaters: Wednesday 26th November 2008
Box Office USA: $31.3M
Box Office Worldwide: $109M
Distributed by: Lionsgate Films
Production compaines: TF1 Films Production, Grive Productions, EuropaCorp
Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 37%
Fresh: 41 Rotten: 70
IMDB: 6.0 / 10
Director: Olivier Megaton
Starring: Jason Statham as Frank Martin, François Berléand as Inspector Tarconi, Natalya Rudakova as Valentina Vasilev, Robert Knepper as Johnson, David Atrakchi as Malcom Manville, Alex Kobold as Leonid's Aide, Yann Sundberg as Flag, Eriq Ebouaney as Ice, Silvio Simac as Mighty Joe, Timo Dierkes as Otto