Quick Take: Jason Statham must really enjoy making these films to agree to this script.
A serviceable Transporter sequel honors the original with one or more creative Hong Kong-inspired fight sequences, thrilling car stunts and Frank Martin strictly obeying his three rules that define his character’s personality as much as the tailored black suits he covets. Transporter 3 misses the exit for all of these criteria, fumbling through a nonsensical plot and wasting Jason Statham’s time and workout regimen better suited revisiting Chev Chelios for a third time.
The “package” Frank is forced into transporting this time around is a mysterious young and freckly Ukrainian girl Valentina who by no fault of her own is tied into an environmental pollution conspiracy. Her initial reluctance to share information both angers and intrigues Frank who soon trades names with her thereby breaking his own rule and setting up an inevitable love romp in the back seat later. Frank best have used a condom because his balding hairline is a perfect match to be Valentina’s father, not lover.
Keeping Frank and Valentina in his Audi are state-of-the-art wrist bombs that will automatically detonate if their wearer wanders more than 75 feet from the car. This plot device had the potential to deliver killer action scenes but was only utilized twice – and poorly at that. Frank’s nemesis Johnson, played menacingly by Prison Break’s Robert Knepper, goes as far as to describe in painstaking detail how the wrist bombs will light up different colors as someone moves increasingly further from the Audi. Yet when Frank goes “kung fu” on a dozen men in multiple rooms of a mechanic’s shop, he never once checks to see how close he is to going ka-boom. Only twice when either Frank or Valentina is at the edge of 75 feet does the bomb conveniently bother to alert them.
That mechanic’s shop fight is the kung fu centerpiece but may as well have been lifted from the opening scene of Transporter 2. Frank is outnumbered, surrounded and ends up using his clothing and their weapons to clean house. Nothing exciting or remotely original to the series comes from it unless your chromosomes are XX. In that case, Frank’s insistence on removing his shirt to fight will send you into a tizzy.
Transporter 3 proves the time has come for Besson to shelve Frank Martin and let the man retire to a quiet existence fishing in some secluded European lake. That’s all Frank has ever wanted, to be left alone. Too bad Besson feels compelled to force Frank back into his Audi as a writer and vicariously through Johnson.
Lionsgate offers up Transporter 3 on Blu-ray Disc with a faithful 1080p AVC MPEG-4 encoded 2.35:1 transfer that generally looks great. As with the previous Transporter films, there is heavy filtering to push contrast and saturation hard resulting in ultra-bright reds, blues, yellows and greens. The transfer manages all of these effectively under an intentional light veneer of grain that matches the scruff on Frank’s face. Black levels are strong as a result of the pushed saturation but do yield occasional blocking in the backgrounds of intensely kinetic scenes.
A 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track makes full use of the extra two channels of surround by creating a strikingly realistic soundstage whether through ambient noise or during hard action sequences. One early sequence in particular sees a car crash through the side of Frank’s home while he’s watching TV. The aural impact of this crash was so real that I jumped in my chair a bit as if a car had smashed into my home. Great sound mixing all around that deserves all 7.1 channels it has been given.
Transporter 3 includes the requisite amount of bonus features you’d expect it to with the notable exception of Jason Statham participating in an audio commentary. With his busy schedule the absence was likely unavoidable. In Statham’s place, Director Olivier Megaton man’s up to the microphone for an average Feature-Length Audio Commentary with a heavy French accent and diverse discussion topics ranging from script analysis to casting to character motives to photography styles.
A collection of older government intelligence officers tell us how real-life Transporters operate, and have operated since the Revolutionary War, in Special Delivery: Transporters in the Real World (13:49). One consultant openly blames Princess Diana’s “Transporter” for her untimely death due to his inability to avoid the tunnel accident. In Making of Transporter 3 (16:16), Megaton takes us behind-the-scenes of his European production home base with minimal references to how great he thinks his film is.
The next three featurettes are extremely brief and touch upon their subject matter without delving too deep into details. Storyboard Compare (2:47) shows some sequences that didn’t make the film including driving between passing trains that was later modified to trucks. Visual Effects (2:33) focuses most of its time on the final act’s stunts, while The Sets (2:10) links the architectural interests of the production designer to work seen in the film.
Also included is the Theatrical Trailer in high definition, too many trailers for upcoming Lionsgate’s films including Crank 2, and Lionsgate’s MOLOG interactive “blog” feature exclusive to Blu-ray.
Frank Martin’s third time through the paces is by far the weakest in the series yet which effectively deconstructs the hard-edged character into a sentimental honorable man. It’s an inferior retread of its predecessors in every conceivable way and would be completely avoidable if not for another gusto performance by Statham. Consider Transporter 3 as a rental for the faithful 1080p transfer, lifelike 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix or curiosity; not because you expect to see a good and honorable Transporter film.
– Dan Bradley