It’s hard to fathom how a series that loves mindless action could go this far astray. Yet, here’s Transporter 3 in all of its miserable, incomprehensible glory. Fans of the previous two films should be advised to stay some distance from this potentially final film in the series, for whatever exciting fun the predecessors brought has been extinguished.
The initial set-up to this entry in the franchise is confusing, poorly shot, miserably edited, and at times incomprehensible. It doesn’t get any better from here either. The story, which sloppily involves a Russian politician striving for environmental policies, an unnamed woman, and Jason Statham, literally goes nowhere. Characters are tossed onto the screen for mere seconds before being replaced with an image of someone else also involved in this mess.
As the film opens, audiences are treated to a boat filled with unknown toxic chemicals that can kill immediately. That boat disappears for the next 50 minutes of screen time as if it’s irrelevant to the story. Yet, it’s critical to this misguided plot that exists purely to create a reason for Statham to get back into form.
Of course, you’re not walking into a Transporter 3 for its plot development but for the action sequences. The first film had the memorable oil brawl, the second a classic hose fight, and now fans are given… well, nothing. The few fights are mundane and unimaginative, devoid of the creative absurdities people pay to see.
To make matters worse, it’s impossible to appreciate the choreography here. It’s commonly stated that quick edits were made for the MTV generation. This movie is edited so fast the generation it’s made for doesn’t exist yet. Whether it’s the fights or the car chases, it doesn’t matter. They both have “blink or you’ll miss it” qualities, and that’s in no way an exaggeration. Jump cuts, flash cuts, rapid edits, etc. There’s a chance not a single shot in this movie lasts more than 10 seconds, and for the fights, that number drops to under a second.
Screenwriter Luc Besson has returned, and to his credit, he does break down Statham’s Frank Martin character. Inserted for this purpose is newcomer Natalya Rudakova, who looks an awful lot like a redheaded version of Kate Nauta from Transporter 2. The budding romance does open up Frank Martin as somewhat human, but unfortunately it’s also incredibly boring. The constant talk about food, dining possibilities, and general antics are simply not entertaining. At 100 minutes, the film feels well over the two-hour mark, and that can be directed back onto this slapped together love sub-plot.
Transporter 3 also has a fun possibility with a gimmick. Martin is tied to his car by a wrist device, and can only move so far from it before the wristband blows up. Until the finale, it’s hardly used. A bike chase, terribly edited like everything else, seems inserted purely to sell the idea, and give some action to an otherwise long, drawn out opening.
On top of that, much of the film feels like a car commercial. Here we have a car that’s been shot, dunked into a river, slammed into walls, off-roaded, driven into a train, and squeezed between semis, yet there’s not a scratch on the thing. The absurdity that the car still works is well within the frame of the franchise, yet the car’s logo taking up significant screen space every time it survives something else is shameless.
French director Olivier Megaton may have sunk this franchise to a point where not even Frank Martin could save it. While all of the blame is surely not on his shoulders, he’ll likely be the one catching the flack, and for ever giving the okay to the horrendous editing. This one doesn’t even have the courtesy to end on a phone call, a tradition in the previous Transporter movies. If you can’t get that right, it’s not hard to see how far south this one fell.
What Transporter 3 does right is present itself as a technical masterpiece on Blu-ray. Any flaws noted are purely from the source. For instance, blown-out whites, fluctuating grain, and some minor black crush were present in the theater, and maintained here. Razor sharpness doesn’t even begin to describe how incredible and lifelike this transfer appears, although some may notice small edge enhancement from time to time. It’s minor however.
Detail is flat out astonishing, revealing every pore on the actor’s faces. It’s amazing visual material. Blown-out colors are gorgeous, suited to the film, and it all happens without bleeding. Contrast consistently creates an image full of depth, and not a moment of this one lets the viewer down.
Likewise, this is an audio-lover’s fantasy. Rich, thick, deep bass shakes the room every time it’s called upon. When Martin’s car bursts through the train at the end of the film, it might as well be your house being crushed. The surrounds are engaging in this DTS-HD 7.1 mix, delivering an expansive sound field that sounds natural and accurate. It succeeds at both subtlety and aggressiveness, and again, the finale is where it shines. The train hits the tracks clearly in all channels, even while the action gains intensity. Amazing material across the board.
Extras deliver a fairly sparse look at the making of the film, beginning with a commentary (that in a perfect world would double as an apology) from Megaton. This is a followed by a nice, if short, making-of piece that runs 16 minutes. Megaton’s commentary also continues over two short featurettes discussing sets and visual effects.
Special Delivery is a piece on real transporters, and their roles in the real world. There are a ton of interviews with people at various levels of government, and a history on the occupation. Some trailers and the usual BD-Live Molog feature (i.e., waste of space) finish off the disc.