A Senseless Action Thriller

It’s all a matter of expectations. One does not go to a Transporter film to experience rational plot, or dramatically captivating characters. There’s no need to have seen the previous Transporter films to comprehend the concept of its third action-packed installment of the popular franchise. It’s mediocre and harebrained. Most of the time, it recycles other movies in the same genre like Wages of Fear and Speed series. Transporter 3 is exactly what one should demand from the second sequel in a franchise that has never really differentiated itself.

The action plot involves former skilled special ops courier agent Frank Martin (Jason Statham) as a now a pseudo-retired contract driver who can deliver your person or package by any means necessary for the right price. He’s gone fishing with his former nemesis, Marseilles Police Inspector Tarconi (François Berléand), and isn’t interested in his latest offer, which has been tendered by villainous agents of a hazardous waste company trying to blackmail the head of the environmental protection agency in Ukraine. They want to bring eight container ships of toxic poisons into a Ukrainian harbor.

When the man he recommended for the latest underground transport job ends up driving into his living room with a Ukrainian hot girl passed out in his back seat, Frank is back in the game against his will, tied to his sleek black car with an explosive bracelet. He has no choice but to team with a Ukrainian party girl (Natalya Rudakova) who makes his latest mission even more difficult than it already is considering that they’ve been forced to wear bracelets that will explode if they go more than 75 feet from the car.

From the start, the Transporter series was astutely calculated, driven by a high concept, uncultivated scenario, and underdeveloped characters. The Transporter series has always lived in a world constructed from the most ridiculous of devices. Shackled to a dim-witted idea, the stories never make much sense and the action is usually so over the top that it is, more often than not, absurd. Transporter 2 made this work by embracing its own ridiculousness and having a lot of fun with it. Transporter 3 seems like it is supposed to be doing the same, but instead it wears down ceaseless minutes of valuable screen time ludicrously trying to explain the inexplicable. There is no actual plot, and because it wastes so much time trying to convince us that it is, Transporter 3 also isn’t any fun. As the plot barely thickens and the melodrama constantly unwinds, Transporter 3 offers even less discourse-driven plot than its predecessors. Like the first two films, this one is a tediously extended, accustomed thrill-ride, consisting of high-speed car chases and hand-to-hand battles.

Rudakova skulks, pouts, clams up, looks out the window, and yet falls in love with the Transporter. During their violent road trip, Frank begins to fall for Valentina, which is more unrealistic than any of the stunts. She’s bad-tempered and annoying. There’s a scene in which she forces him to strip before she’ll give him back his keys. That scene is just too painful.

Statham returns for a third go-round as a cynical hero and a man of few words who seem not to care about what he is doing. In other words, he is an anti-hero who gets things done. His steely-eyed, muscular, uncommunicative attributes with three-day stubble would appeal to many viewers.

Transporter 3 may be perfectly adequate as a senseless action thriller, but it is still the worst in a trilogy that has been notable mainly for the presence of its everyman action star. It is a nonsensical, choppily edited bore, with dreadful dialogue constantly cramping Statham’s usual action-speaks-louder-than-words style. If you’re interested in seeing more of the mindless action and fun from the previous two movies, Transporter 3 really delivers an entertaining flick. Yet, no logic in the world could ever support this as a decent movie, especially compared to some of the great action movies released this summer. If action film industry is ever going to win an audience beyond this vital market, it will have to move in a smarter direction, to become more experimental both in stories and visual style.

Rating: 2/5

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Criticetc is a journalism/film/book critic in Bangkok and Pattaya, and at http://www.bkklive.com     and http://www.cinemania.com

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