Jason Statham, Robert Knepper, Francois Berleand, Natalya Rudakova
Luc Besson & Robert Mark Kamen
100 mins, 2008
** (out of ****)
Martial arts, bullets flying, Big Bad guy, hot women, giant explosions, loose plot, terrible one-liners, and scenes constructed for the sole purpose of getting Jason Statham's shirt off: this formula has been the centerpiece for all three Transporter films, and it worked like a charm the first two times. The third time around, not so much. Now, I love the first two: they are a insanely fun, hour and a half diversion of everyday life where you get to watch random dudes get the shit kicked out of them - cool style, stuff getting blown the hell up, and a plethora of very attractive girl(s) (romantic interest or not). I get that these movies are mindless entertainment, the purest form of escapism. Watching the first and second installments, it felt no time had passed at all as I was witness to all this awesome kick-assery; however, with this one I felt myself checking my watch every once and a short while, wondering when the hell this flick was either going to improve, get to the point, or end; pretty much my same state of mind when sitting in the theater watching Quantum of Solace. However, this half-assed attempt at making a decent action movie is at least mildly entertaining (at parts), so it's at least worth a rental.
Um, since I don't really feel in the mood, this is going to be quite sloppy: Good ol' Frank (Statham) is hanging out, enjoying life, and then he's suddenly thrust back into being Mr. Transporter Dude. But this time, he really doesn't have a choice. The devious Mr. Johnson (Knepper) has attached a device to his wrist, that if he breaches a 75-foot parameter from his car, he will explode. Frank's mission: to drive some red-head Russian girl, Valentina (Rudankova) to designated places Johnson chooses via a coded GPS system in the car. Sounds simple enough. However, Valentina is quite the annoying Russian chick who pisses on conveinence store tiles and yammers on and on about how damn hungry she is. There's also a devious plot of Mr. Johnson's that is connected to Valentina and a big politician dude. Will Frank save the day? Will Mr. Johnson get his due? How can Frank overcome the whole bracelet obstacle thingy? Find out in Transporter 3!
Since action scenes is pretty much reason #1 for seeing these type of flicks, I shall start this review off by saying that the coolest one for me is not when he is kicking the ass of a bunch of dudes single handedly (which has been done before, and better), but when Frank drives his car off a bridge and on-top of a moving train. It's simple, but so bloody cool. From there, he gets out of the car and into the train, kicks some ass, and is about to beat the snot out of Johnson but stops because his wrist device thingy is beeping - meaning he's about to go Kabloom! Agitated, Frank runs back to his car while Johnson disconnects the train, but this doesn't stop Frank. No, he just charges forward and has the car crash into the train. Simple, effective, and damn fun to watch.
There isn't all that much kick-assery going on here, as the writers seem to want to experiment with something called a "plot." I don't know what on earth gave them such a insane idea, because that sort of thing just sorta, kinda doesn't work here. There's a forced romance here that doesn't make sense whatsoever, nor does it even reach a small level of believability.
Since the script is lacking in so much, the action sequences better make up for it. Right? Makes sense. However, whatever fighting or explosions there are, it's very hard to make out what the hell is going on by the erratic camerawork by Mr. Megaton (I honestly-to-God thought his last name was Megatron before I took a closer look).
There's two scenes where Frank engages in some hand-to-hand combat (although he occassionally takes up some items to use), and they aren't strinkingly original, nor nearly as fun to watch as the other times before it. Maybe I just wasn't in the kung-fu mood, or perhaps the Transporter series is losing it's flair.
Jason Statham returns to the role that made him more recognized then anything else he'd done, and this time he seems to just show up, "act", kiss, kick ass, and go home. The dude done better (Death Race) and worse (War), so it's more like a effortless...effort on his part. Francois Berleand has hardly anything to do whatsoever. Two fishing scenes in the flick's beginning and ending, as well as a few shots of him commenting, "Where's Frank?" or "Sounds like Frank." The dude was a total joy in Transporter 2, and it's extremely dissapointing to see him have literally nothing to work with. He has no influence on the plot, nor does he really help Frank out in any of the situations. A lame last hurrah (assuming this is the last Transporter) for a fun character.
Robert Knepper, loved for his role in FOX's Prison Break (though he was friggin' brilliant in Carnivale), steals the show from every actor present as the charismatic yet sinister Mr. Johnson. As written, the character is pretty much a throw-away, lacking in pretty much any personality whatsoever or any form of menace. Enter Robert Knepper: this dude fused the character with a energy that made him the more memorable villians I've seen recently (and far surpasses that lame ass Mr. Greene). Knepper has made this bloke lovable, and I honestly wouldn't mind in the least if the flick was re-edited as Mr. Johnson: Transporter Begins Again or something along those lines. Seriously, if for no other reason, Knepper makes this movie recommendable.
Accompanying Statham is Natalya Rudakova, as one of the most annoying attractive freckle-girls I've ever heard. She can't act and her chemistry with Statham is a world of zero. A small part of this is the script, which does her no favors. She's given shitty dialogue (as I mentioned before, she brings up food at various points) and no development. Plus, hardly anything she does makes sense; nor does her actions scream, 'You're my ideal woman.' Her 'acting' career begins and ends here. I am quite curious about why they cast her. I mean, there's plenty of actresses who could pull this thankless role off easily, and maybe make this character seem mildly likable at least. Oh well. Deal with what you're given.
So, Frank has apparently found a girlfriend, and life is good and relaxing. If this is the conclusion of the Transporter saga, it's alright (could have been a lot worse, I admit), but I wouldn't mind seeing a few more in the coming years. The premise is just so damn broad, and Statham is so damn good as Frank that the series could go on for quite a while and hardly ever tire. I own the first two on DVD, but ultimately, I think I'll be passing on this one (well, until Half Price Books has it on clerance for $3.00 - it's worth that).