'Transporter' delivers solid action

Posted: Thursday, December 04, 2008

T here is something to be said, I think, for a movie that understands what it is. It is this quality that makes most Adam Sandler flicks tolerable. It is also perhaps the most important quality for the action genre; the last thing anybody wants to see is Sylvester Stallone mowing down bad guys in one frame and then attempting to show emotion in the next (yes, I mean you, "Rambo").

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Courtesy Of Lions Gate Films
Courtesy Of Lions Gate Films

Jason Statham understands. So do Luc Besson, who wrote "Transporter 3," and Olivier Megaton, who directed it.

Not only is "Transporter 3" an action-junkie's action film - it's a franchise! And if you have seen either "Transporter" or "Transporter 2" then you know this franchise is proud of the fact that the laws of physics don't apply. It is downright gleeful in the way it ignores plot holes, no matter how glaring. And certainly, it doesn't even pretend to be attempting to move you emotionally.

So I am happy to report that "Transporter 3" fits neatly into place in this trilogy.

Statham is Frank Martin, our favorite professional transporter who also happens to be a big time badass. Never mind that if any of these villains had been paying attention they would know by now that if you force Frank Martin to do stuff he does not want to ... it will end badly for you, not Frank Martin. But this is "Transporter 3," darn it, so we need a bad guy that thinks he can manipulate Mr. Martin.

Hello, Johnson (Robert Knepper)! Johnson is the best brand of villain - he shoots his subordinates in the face if they annoy him, he is supremely arrogant and he doesn't take no for an answer. Thus, when Frank tells him no upon receiving the initial job offer, Johnson simply raises the stakes.

Frank wakes up half naked in your typical bad-guy-holding-room - lots of stainless steel and chrome - and is greeted by Johnson who again offers Frank a job. This time, however, Frank is sporting a clunky bracelet. Johnson is practically giddy when he explains to Frank that the bracelet will blow up, along with Frank, should he get more than 75 feet from the car.

So, yes, Frank takes the job. He also finds some rather interesting ways to keep himself near the car, no matter what the situation.

Without giving away too much of Besson's plot, I can tell you that a couple of other "Transporter" staples are accounted for: There's a girl (Natalya Rudakova), and the French cop Tarconi (Francois Berleand) is again around. Berleand, as he did in the prior "Transporter" movies, provides the on-screen humor and he's impossible not to like. Rudakova, like her female predecessors, is cute and into Frank but easy for us to forget.

The truth, of course, is that plotlines and characters take a back seat to the action sequences in this series. Car chases and gunplay certainly count, but a "Transporter" flick had better have Statham kicking the crap out of large groups of foes.


Martial arts choreographer Corey Yen did the first two and he's once again in charge for number three. Thankfully, his style has not changed. Bad guys always seem to lack guns and find large pipes to swing at Statham; Statham always seems to lose clothing as fights progress. The end result is always the same, though: We are entertained, Statham is shirtless, and very many bad guys are unconscious.

The plot has holes. The characters don't really grow. Physics does not apply. But the action is undeniably entertaining.

And that is exactly how "Transporter 3" is supposed to be.

• Check out Carson's movie blog at www.juneaublogger.com/movies.

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