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By Michael Ferraro | November 28, 2008

There is a part in the spectacularly ridiculous “Transporter 2” where Frank Martin (Jason Statham) notices an explosive device strapped to the bottom of his Audi in the reflection of a dirty puddle. A brief moment of foreshadowing just moments prior provides a hint as to what our protagonist will think of to get himself out of this mess. Now, follow this if you can… He drives to the middle of a field somewhere on the outskirts of the harbors of Miami (where the film takes place), hits an oddly placed ramp of sorts, flips sideways in midair where a random abandoned crane pulls the bomb right off the car, and Frank and his Audi land perfectly un-blown-up on the grass. What is the point of this?

It was this sort of ridiculousness that kept the “Transporter” series tolerable. Scribes Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen kept the thrill levels up and the dialogue to a minimum, because they knew no one turns on these movies for amazing conversation. In fact, fans watch these films just to see how unreal the action set pieces are going to get. And so begins the many, many, problems with “Transporter 3.”

The plot is familiar enough. Frank Martin, world’s best transporter of things UPS isn’t willing to ship, gets pulled out of retirement for one last job. He is to deliver some bags of an unknown sort to a location not yet made clear by a specific time period. Why would he agree to this if he was indeed retired? His “customers” (if you will) brace his arm with a metallic device that blows up should he step more than 75 feet away from his car. Clever, eh? Sure, I guess, but something about all this makes this “Transporter” entry feel less like what it should be and more like a “Crank” imitation.

Not like there is anything wrong with that. Only in this case, there is. Martin is forced to bring along a woman (usually the case in this franchise – see the first and second entry). She wears a matching bracelet and will suffer the same fate should she wander too far from the vehicle also. Soon, Martin realizes that the bags aren’t what they seem and that the real “package” is the woman (played by newcomer Natalya Rudakova). Mayhem ensues.

Former graffiti artist and first time director Oliver Megaton does a fine job keeping along with the visual aesthetics of the series but fails to separate this from any film of its genre. The camera moves as perfect as possible along with the action but tenses up at the first sign of dialogue exchanges – especially between the many conversations between Frank and the woman that take place in the car. The words are simply not captivating enough (or at all for that matter) to keep us interested. Perhaps it was done on purpose; to keep up with the stiff dynamic between the characters and wooden lines they deliver. Mundane dialogue is tolerable in a film like this but not as much as it’s usage in “Transporter 3”.

It’s hard to recommend to someone that they should shell out good coin to see this film in an actual theater. While it will no doubt end up being a let down even for the die hardest of fans, the film does contain a couple of interesting thrills here and there. However, this film would have been better off thrown straight to DVD. Maybe that’s why Fox decided to pass this dimming torch to Lionsgate… they knew it too.

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