Transporter 3 (2008)

*. You might have been going into this one with high hopes. The Transporter was a decent action film, introducing Jason Statham as an action star and having a kind of ’90s charm to it. With Transporter 2 they upped their game with a flick that was good silly fun.
*. Alas, the third time around did not continue this trajectory. It’s crap.
*. It would be easy to blame Natalya Rudakova. Many reviewers did. Luc Besson apparently “discovered” her walking down a street in New York City. She was a hairdresser with no acting experience but he still wanted her to play Valentina.
*. She can’t act but I didn’t think she embarrasses herself given that it’s not really fair to throw a novice into such a hopeless situation. In the event, she gave what Besson wanted her to project, in service to his own fetishes. So she’s stuck falling in love with her saviour (Statham), reciting hopeless lines in fractured English, all while pimped out in her Ibiza party dress, with make-up running down her face.
*. I’ve never been to Ibiza, by the way. Do people just go there to dance and do drugs? Is that its only purpose?
*. So the character of Valentina is awful. As with Lai in the first film and the little boy in the second she’s only there to serve a plot function. Unfortunately, there’s a lot more of her and she starts to grate even before she takes to popping pills and getting drunk so she can act like a total ditz and get into even more trouble. In the big love/seduction scene I just felt embarrassed for everyone involved. As if Frank couldn’t just take the damn keys from her and be done with it.
*. I have to wonder at Tarconi telling Frank that his growing attachment to Valentina is not like the Frank he knows. Tarconi was in the first two films. This is exactly the Frank he knows.
*. Just don’t think about the plot here making sense. Just don’t think about it at all. I’m not even going to begin.
*. Another generic element added this time is the exploding bracelet Frank wears, which will detonate if he gets too far from his car. This goes back at least as far as Escape from New York, but is also like similar guns to the head in Speed and (another Statham vehicle) Crank. Again, it’s just something that’s here to make the wheels of the plot keep going around. Frank drops in on a mechanic friend of his to see if he can get the bracelet off. There’s a big fight in his garage. But he can’t get the bracelet off. Which turns out not to matter, because it was just meant to be a pit stop anyway, a place where Frank would stop driving long enough to fight some bad guys.
*. The action scenes struck me as a big letdown from Transporter 2. They’re just dance numbers. In the garage Frank even does a strip tease, which Valentina eyes appreciatively. I didn’t think there was anything fresh or interesting about any of it though. Or to the chase scenes. The Audi going on its side to squeeze between two trucks was peak stupid.
*. On the plus side, at least we finally see the bad guy getting a suitably spectacular (albeit still conventional, and bloodless) send-off. I would have been disappointed if he’d only been tossed from the train.
*. One of the worst things I can say about this one is that I didn’t even finish watching it the first time through, which is something I only realized when I started writing up these notes and had no memory of how it ended. I had to go back and watch the final five minutes, for what that was worth. Not much.
*. Director Olivier Megaton (no, that’s not his real last name, it’s Fontana) would go on to do Taken 2 and 3, which was no big stretch (though I think they were better movies). Statham, however, would be getting off the bus here, and for good reason (it didn’t help that he felt he was being lowballed in the new contract he was offered). Why do another movie after this train wreck? Tomorrow to fresh franchises and pastures new.

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