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December 2008

by Kam Williams


Distributor: Lionsgate
Director: Olivier Megaton
Screenwriter: Luc Besson, Robert Mark Kamen
Cinematographer: Giovanni Fiore Coltellacci
Composer: Alexandre Azaria
Cast: Jason Statham, Robert Knepper, Francois Berleand


Jason Statham Back for More Derring-Do as Daredevil Driver for Hire

In this critic’s opinion, Jason Statham was the obvious pick to replace Pierce Brosnan as James Bond. For the suave, self-assured leading man had fairly well established himself as the heir apparent to the role after a string of impressive action-oriented outings in everything from Snatch to Crank to The Transporter 1 & 2. Anyone who wants further proof need only check out Transporter 3, where the steely Statham makes the most of his latest opportunity to display his fighting skills while also adding a dash of romance to his repertoire.

The film opens like a variation of Speed, as it establishes a similarly urgent motif at the point of departure in order to keep the audience on edge for the duration of the high-octane adventure. Here we have Frank Martin (Statham), chauffeur nonpareil, who is “hired” at gunpoint by mobsters to drive a secret package to an undisclosed location. The catch is that to insure his allegiance the thugs have strapped a bomb to his arm which is set to detonate if he wanders more than 75 feet from the vehicle.

Another complication is that Frank has a raccoon-eyed passenger coming along for the ride in Valentina (Natalya Rudakova), a pill-popping, vodka-swigging party girl he saved from the goons. What our hero doesn’t know is that the freckle-faced femme fatale just happens to be the kidnapped daughter of Leonid Vasilev (Jeroen Krabbe), a powerful Ukrainian politician presently being pressured to sign a government contract as ransom by the same creep (Robert Knepper) who attached the explosives to Frank.

Fair warning, Transporter 3’s storyline won’t hold up well to close scrutiny, as the point of the picture is the incessant visual capture provided by all the pyrotechnics and gravity-defying stunt sequences featuring carefully-orchestrated gunplay, hand-to-hand combat, and car, bike and train chases. Is the plot plausible? No, but it hurtles along at such a breakneck pace you don’t have a chance to pause to contemplate its preposterousness.

From Frank’s successfully running a gauntlet of a dozen bloodthirsty foes, to driving his souped-up sports car off an overpass and landing safely onto a speeding locomotive, to tipping the auto onto its side to negotiate a narrow passageway between a couple of 18-wheelers, this is the stuff escapist movie magic is meant to be made of. Mix in a little charm and romance, and you have all the fixins for the most dashing and debonair British character around today, even if his name can’t be James Bond.