One would like to think that they're only asking for so much when they opt to see a flick titled Transporter 3, and that fulfills our end of the bargain. We, the audience, provide the expectations, however modest, and they, the filmmakers, provide the execution. Frank Martin knows when he has to deliver; after all, it's his job.

Olivier Megaton, on the other hand... not so much.

Megaton has taken on the job after serving as second-unit director on Hitman. Given that both stories are about stoic bald dudes kicking butt across Europe with a native femme in tow, I'd guess that's as good a qualifier as any, though not good enough in hindsight. Our stoic bald dude is Frank Martin, natch, and he's once again played by Jason Statham with all the steely glares and ab crunches that come with the territory (and seemingly every role he takes).



His pouty, pill-poppin' passenger, Frowny McFreckles, is played by newcomer (and, dare I suggest, new-goer) Natalya Rudakova, and when she says things like "I look stupid to you?", the most tempting response is "Well, you sure sound the part." (When he follows her query up with the line "Download me on what you know," one wonders if poor syntax syndrome has grown contagious.) At any rate, she happens to be the daughter of a government official who is on the brink of signing in some sort of pro-environment legislation, the likes of which some faceless corporate entity is none too happy about. So, naturally, they hire a snarling American (Hitman's Robert Knepper, because you can't always get Michael Wincott) to strap a bomb bracelet to Frank and Frowny's wrists that prevents them from abandoning their vehicle prior to its eventual arrival in Odessa.

Megaton's problems begin with a script by series creators Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen that insists on prolonging all of its action sequences with filler characterization (Frowny and Frank discuss ideal meals as a twinkling piano plays on) and an exaggerated plot (when the story quite literally crashes into Frank's home, that's the bang you start out with; every other blank before that point ends up filled in at least twice later on). Then again, what should be a routine kidnapping is unnecessarily arranged to rope in our driver and sully the mediocre name of the series. Naturally, Statham's character has roughly 37% more excuses for shirt removal than ever before, and but of course he has a pal who happens to be fat, bearded, and positively jolly with exposition, enough so to merit a detour. Hey, with priorities like those, who would be in a rush?

Better yet, Megaton and his two editors insist on needless speed-ups (finally, a car chase that would do Benny Hill proud) and flash cuts (He's walking to the other side of the room!) that make matters distinctly less exciting. It's these tricks that obscure the work of returning fight choreographer Corey Yuen, not to mention Statham and the stunt team. The first film was slick, the second one silly, but at least we knew what was going on during those action beats, and if either Yuen (who directed Transporter 1) or Louis Leterrier (Transporter 2) had come back, at least it might've helped put some polish on this turd, as it were.

Still, one's glad to know that the important issues remain upfront, namely that...

  • ...Frank's not gay, though there's as much evidence as ever to suggest that he may be the 60 M.P.H. Virgin.
  • ...big, bad eco-agendas are in (Wall-E, The Happening, Quantum of Solace).
  • ...European train transportation is out (Wanted, Transsiberian).
Yes, the climax takes place on a train, and yes, all while the bracelet-car vicinity rule still applies (only this and an impromptu bike pursuit really make the most of this stipulation), and how Frank Martin arrives on said vehicle is eerily similar to how the first car chase in the first film played out -- way back in 2002, when such moments were executed with enough zest that you were sold on three acts to come, if not three films. Now, though, all it seems to take to make a bomb is a bomb, whether attached to the wrist or to the camera.