Transporter 3 (2008)

Rating: **
Release Date: 11/26/08
Written And Produced By: Luc Besson
Director: Olivier Megaton
Martial Arts Choreography: Corey Yuen Kwei
Cast: Jason Statham, Natalya Rudakova, François Berléand, Robert Knepper

Another wasted opportunity to turn the "Transporter" franchise into something that matters, and another superb physical performance by Jason Statham that's ruined by incompetent editing. This is your typical political kidnapping tale, but the details are laughably absurd. Frank Martin (Jason Statham) finds himself forced into a courier job by means of an exploding bracelet, and the package is the daughter of a powerful Ukrainian environmentalist. The Americans want to dump chemical waste in the Ukraine and are forcing an agreement by holding the girl hostage. A dumb story with painfully stupid dialog to match. Anyway, Frank manages to keep both himself and the girl alive long enough for Inspector Tarconi (François Berléand) to crack the case, and in doing so also develops an emotional attachment to the girl. By now the whole premise of "a man with unbreakable rules" is laughably irrelevant, since the entire series revolves around him breaking them. Even the cast thinks that Frank is a joke at this point.

Not surprisingly, my biggest complaint with the film is the horrible editing. Seriously people, how can you not be infuriated by such incompetence, and why is this considered acceptable? Corey Yuen's fight choreography and Statham's performance are wonderful, but you can't actually see anything due to the horrible camera work and machine gun editing (which Roger Ebert adeptly called "queasy cam"). I can't imagine how frustrated they must be to see their hard work completely destroyed. The car chase scenes are equally frustrating, with jerky undercranked camera work and unconvincing digital effects. In fact, the only time the camera stays still is when it snaps to Natalya Rudakova's face, whose piercing features command attention. For whatever reasons, Luc Besson decided to make this film into a love story with a happy romantic ending, spelling certain doom for any future installments. He must have also fallen for Ms. Rudakova's deadly charms. It's a shame, because Frank's character and Jason Statham's portrayal are so full of untapped potential.