Frank Martin—a former Special Forces officer who makes a living as a hired transporter for the criminal and secretive—is back for his third go-round.
This time Frank is pressured into driving the kidnapped daughter of a Ukrainian Environmental Protection Agency minister across Europe. When I say pressured, I mean that he's forcibly slapped into a high-tech bracelet that will explode if he wanders more than 75 feet from his car. Malevolent villain Mr. Johnson promises that if Frank completes the transport mission he'll be paid and set free to go about his business.
What Johnson and his bosses really want is to keep the girl, Valentina, moving long enough for them to be able to force her father to sign an eco-agreement. This arrangement would allow a multinational (read: evil) corporation to import and dump tons of toxic waste somewhere in the Ukraine. If the minister signs, his daughter comes home.
At first, even though Frank is trying to save them both, Valentina refuses to tell him what she knows. She cynically believes that they're both going to die. But after a few blistering car chases and a couple Frank Martin-style bad guy bashings, the young woman is beginning to think that he just might be her savior. Besides, he's so impressively ripped with his shirt off.
Frank is a man of order and rules. He believes that if he keeps things simple, with no names or personal involvement, he can avoid being pulled into anything overly dangerous or illegal. (But, of course, that's exactly what always happens in these Transporter movies.) When faced with a choice of right or wrong, he generally chooses the former. (Not counting the times he decides to drop a car on a thug.) Frank selflessly puts his life on the line to protect Valentina.
Once Valentina warms up to her transporter, she becomes quite devoted to him. Several times she tries to fight against men who want to hurt Frank.
Frank displays his well-toned physique on several occasions. (Once dressed in only boxers.) During a fight he strips out of his suit and uses his coat, tie and shirt as weapons against his attackers. Valentina eyes his body with obvious approval. Later she mentions this "striptease" and asks him to duplicate it for her, saying, "I want to feel the sex one more time before dying." Frank eventually capitulates, taking off his shirt, and the two kiss passionately. A quick shot implies that they have sex in the back seat of Frank's car.
Valentina wears a formfitting party dress that reveals lots of leg and is very low cut. While inebriated, she pulls her skirt up to her waist (revealing her naked backside) and squats to urinate on the floor. A picture of a bathing beauty adorns the side of a public phone.
Transporter 3 is unquestionably all about action violence. Frank's high-powered Audi smashes through bridge railings, speeding train cars and over anything or anybody in its path. But the majority of the picture is made up of over-the-top shoot-outs, highly choreographed slugfests and ear-blowing explosions.
For instance, in one of the battles, Frank faces off with eight or nine men, disabling them with bone-breaking kicks to the leg, ribs and head; steel pipe thumps to the body and face; a thug-crushing dropped car lift; strangleholds with articles of his clothing; and finally, after being thrown through a brick wall, he fells a 7-foot-tall bruiser with a barrage of poleax punches and a steel shovel to the face.
Johnson shoots one of his own men in the forehead for daring to ask a question. He later punches Valentina in the stomach for disobeying him. A policeman is shot in the chest. Another guy has his arm snapped while shooting an automatic rifle out a car window. Two workers have their faces melt off after being exposed to toxic chemicals. And we see one fellow blown to smithereens by a detonating bracelet. Those are but a few of the near-constant smash-bang-pop-bash incidences that are relatively bloodless but nevertheless gush, flow and dribble off the movie screen.
Crude or Profane Language
The f-word is spoken twice in English and once in French (with a "helpful" subtitle translation). The s-word appears twice. "A--" and "h---" are used. And God's name is misused (once in combination with "d--n"). Valentina lofts an obscene hand gesture.
Drug and Alcohol Content
During their drive, Valentina discovers some pills in her makeup kit and gets high after taking them. She then grabs a bottle of vodka off a store shelf and starts swigging it. She also downs champagne at a dance club. Partygoers drink.
Workers onboard a ship go looking below decks for a few bottles of brew.
"In the first two films, the action sequences are very short," Transporter 3 director Olivier Megaton is reported as saying on allmovieportal.com. "But in this one, they're longer and more intense, and they build and build, with everything conceived to have more extensive sequences and bigger payoffs."
And in a few short lines, Megaton has pretty much summed up the filmmaking philosophy and big-dollar focus behind 99 percent of today's crop of Bondian action clones. Truncate the story, minimize the characters, eliminate the dialogue so you can spend more time pouring on the high-speed-chasing, facial bone-crushing, bullet-riddling, supernova-exploding action.
Now, Transporter 3 does maintain a bit of old school-precise, crisp white-collar-and-tie charm. Compared to most of the movie world's new antiheroes, Frank Martin is somewhat less nihilistic and dark. In fact, he could be considered to be a guy with a modicum of integrity. Or, let's say, he's a tough-as-nails loner with a soft center.
But by the time he and we hit the third or fourth mano a mano battle (which should really be mano a many since the bad guys always arrive in packs) and we've seen thugs pummeled, gagged and obliterated by everything from an unbuttoned shirt to a bomb, Frank's retro charm is forgotten.
And that means Transporter 3 is, quite simply, just like Transporter 2—another formulaic actioner with outrageous car stunts, highly choreographed violence and a thin icing of erotic tease.
"I think we ended up doing something as good and as original as the first Transporter film," Megaton said.
I'll leave it at that.