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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Transporter 3

When did it become an unwritten rule that action sequences must be edited so quickly that we miss out on most of the good stuff? I remember watching Transformers last year, eagerly awaiting the climax where the Autobots and Decepticons (two childhood icons of mine) battle it out in live action glory. What Michael Bay gave me was what looked like various indistinguishable pieces of metal being slammed against each other while explosions boomed on the soundtrack. More recently, Quantum of Solace had the nerve to cast James Bond as an uninteresting video game hero who did nothing but shoot people in sequences that looked like they were well done, if only the camera would have slowed down to let me admire them.

Transporter 3 is the latest film to join this list. Director Olivier Megaton (With a name like that, of course he's directing an action film!) has hired Corey Yuen, one of the best in the business, to do the fight choreography. But the action has been edited in such a rapid fire manner, our eyes and brains barely have time to register what we're watching, which makes Yuen's presence unnecessary to begin with. Why are the filmmakers trying to hide what we come to see in the first place? To be fair, the movie contains a long middle section where there's very little action, so the camera stays fairly dormant. The only problem is this is also the least interesting part of the film, and focuses us to concentrate on the inane and wooden dialogue supplied by screenwriters Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen. So, the movie doesn't slow down enough for us to appreciate the good stuff, and slows down too much on the parts we're not interested in. Talk about a lose-lose situation.

Since its inception back in 2002, the Transporter franchise has been one of those B-List action films that don't get a lot of attention, but make just enough money so that the sequels get a theatrical release instead of going straight to DVD. The third entry is unlikely to change anyone's mind. Jason Statham is back as Frank Martin, a professional driver who will transport anything for a price. This time around, he's forced into his latest job by a villain named Johnson (Robert Knepper) who wants Frank to transport a "package", which turns out to be a Ukranian woman named Valentina (Natalya Rudankova). Johnson has kidnapped Valentina, as she is the daughter of a powerful political figure. He plans to use her to force her father to sign a document that will allow toxic waste dumping, and basically wants Frank to stay on the road, following Johnson's directions by phone, until her father agrees to give in to his demands. In order to make sure that Frank plays ball, both Valentina and Frank have been equipped with metal bracelets that will explode if either one of them are 75 feet away from the car. Naturally, the bracelets can't be removed.

There's a surprising lack of urgency here, so much so that I found myself forgetting about the exploding bracelets, since they're seldom brought up after they're introduced in the plot. The only real instance where the bracelets become an issue is a sequence where Frank's car gets stolen, and he has to chase after it, staying within the 75 feet area so it doesn't go off. It also plays into the climax, but it seems more like a formality, since the problem is solved by Frank quite quickly. Also adding to the surprising lack of urgency is the limited number of times our heroes find themselves in real danger. There's a karate fight here and there, and a rare car chase, but the action never really picks up until the very end with an intentionally big and dumb sequence where Frank first drives his car off a bridge to land on top of a train, then actually manages to drive his car INTO the train itself. (I'll leave you to see how he accomplishes this feat yourself.) Despite the ad campaign focusing on the aspect of over the top action, the movie is disappointingly laid back, and mostly revolves around Frank and Valentina driving around and waiting for orders of where to go next. It's like paying for a Monster Truck Rally, and getting a Sunday drive.

At 100 minutes, this is the longest film in the Transporter series, but the movie doesn't take advantage of this fact. This is brainless entertainment stretched to the breaking point. The characters aren't even interesting, which partly may be due to the actors getting bored with the whole thing. Jason Statham doesn't seem to be very interested behind the wheel this time around, and Natalya Rudankova doesn't add a lot to liven things up. The villains are poorly developed, so much so that their true intentions are somewhat murky for most of the film's running time. As the lead bad guy, Robert Knepper is in close competition with Mathieu Amalric from the recent Quantum of Solace for the award of "least interesting villain of 2008". At least Amalric got to sneer a little. Aside from shooting one of his henchmen in a scene, Knepper spends most of his time here on the phone. If your hero is supposed to be a badass like Frank is, you'd better be sure that your villain matches him.

Transporter 3 is completely forgettable fluff, which I guess is the whole point in the end. Still, it's not a lot of fun to watch. Fans of the series might get a kick out of seeing Statham as Frank again, but even they will have to admit this is pretty middling entertainment. The whole thing seems like a labored attempt to stretch out a story that wasn't that great to begin with.

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  • With lot of respect behind I have went on to see the movie Transporter 3 it was clearly chanlanging Bond 22 with fallowing month. I should say poor story from the part of bond 22 as according to this one. Transporter 3 is well armed movie with lot of action around. No more wasting time on investigations and just blow the party. is where I have seen it grate action movie for any body.

    By Blogger rimsalia, at 7:58 AM  

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