By Roger Moore
The director of the third “Transporter” movie has given himself the name “Olivier Megaton.” Too easy, you say? Very well. Make your own “bomb” joke.
It’s enough to say that Megaton and producer Luc Besson finally drive the wheels off this action franchise with “Transporter 3.” What once was a model for a pure action film, one as lean and ripped as Jason “Shirtless” Statham, its leading man, has been rendered pointlessly preposterous in the third installment.
Statham, the ex-Olympic swimmer turned action hero, drives an Audi like he stole it, chases cars with bikes and brawls with legions of bad guys as his character transports another supermodel from Marseilles to Eastern Europe. The always reluctant underworld driver or “transporter,” Frank Martin (Statham) is snatched by a generic American villain (Robert Knepper of “Prison Break”) who attaches a bomb bracelet to his wrist and another to that of his kidnapped cargo, played by the sexy and ridiculously freckled Natalya Rudakova. Move more than 75 feet from the car, you go “boom.”
That distance is bent, contorted, twisted and stretched as bad guys try to break the deal, grab the girl, what have you. Martin foils them in brawls cleverly staged by Cory Yuen. They usually begin with Martin telling them, “You don’t want to do this.” Off comes the shirt (Statham’s shirts are bit players in his movies) and down go the villains.
Pretty much everything about this is a joke, from the comical trash-Martin’s-villa opening (how many villas has he lost in this series?) to the idiotic attempt to tie this mission to big polluters trying to blackmail a heroic civil servant (Jeroen Krabbe). The writing will make you wince, as the driver and his cargo try to stave off feeling doomed by talking about their favorite meals in descriptions so banal it would never past muster on The Food Network. The bad guys so closely supervise Martin’s trip that you wonder, “Why not just take the girl themselves?”
But you can’t leave the actual “transporting” out of the “Transporter” movies any more than you can take the bomb out of Olivier Megaton. Oops.