Stick to the plan. Give no names. Never look in the package.
Those are the three rules in the code of The Transporter. But there are certain situations where sometimes rules need to be broken, especially when someone else is calling the shots. That’s more or less the road taken in the third installment of Jason Statham’s high-caliber action vehicle, ‘Transporter 3.’
When I heard ‘Transporter 3’ was in the mail for me for review, I went out and bought ‘Transporter 2.’ I had actually never seen it, although it had been on my to-do list for a couple of years, and it just seemed like the right time to get myself all geared up for ‘Transporter’ chaos. You know, two birds—one stone, and all that jazz. Well, things didn’t work out according to plan, however, as the first sequel turned out to be a huge letdown for me. Between the cartoonish stunts and the baffling story elements that made no sense whatsoever, my optimism for the second sequel sure felt like a victim of a hit and run. In a strange way, I think this is part of the reason why I actually liked ‘Transporter 3.’ It's by no means a great movie and has big issues of its own, but I went in with really low expectations and ended up having a pretty decent ride.
This outing, Frank Martin (Statham) is back in France, trying to make the most of his retirement by catching some rays and fishing with his friend Inspector Tarconi (François Berléand). Naturally, Frank still has the reputation of being the best transporter in the business and is approached by some men looking to hire his services to deliver a “package” across Europe. To their surprise, Frank declines the offer, but provides the name of one of his former associates, Malcolm (David Atrakchi). However, Frank’s life literally comes crashing down all around him when Malcolm fails to complete the job and a mysterious man known as Johnson (Robert Knepper, ‘Prison Break’) holds Frank responsible. The next thing Frank knows, he’s behind the wheel of his Audi A8 W12 pressured into completing the mission. What’s worse, not only does he have to contend with a beautiful but bratty passenger, Valentina (Natalya Rudakova), both he and she are outfitted with high-tech bracelets that will explode if they are more than seventy-five feet away from Frank’s car. As Frank tries to think of a way out of his predicament and keep himself and Valentina alive, he begins to see he’s being used as a pawn in a nefarious chess game involving the environment.
Just like the previous two ‘Transporter’ films, this one is all about style over substance. The story is farfetched, the clichés run rampant, and there are parts of it that defy the laws of physics as well as logic, but we have loads of action to keep us moderately entertained and that’s the main thing. Stunt choreographer Corey Yuen returns to create slick martial arts sequences so Statham can beat the living crap out of boatloads of goons (who show up out of nowhere). There are also a couple of car chases that are a little hectic but get the job done. Plus, how can you not be somewhat amused when Statham has a train to catch and has to lug his Audi along with him for the ride? Maybe I was just in a goofy mood, but I thought it was hilarious.
Of course, it helps that Statham is back in the driver’s seat as the suave, swashbuckling Frank Martin, and he’s still walking the fine line of corny but never quite crosses it. I was also pleased to see that the character of Tarconi (who was practically reduced to a bumbling impersonation of Inspector Clouseau in the last one) snapped back to reality here. Knepper even made a pretty good villain head honcho. The only questionable performance was from Natalya Rudakova, who in all fairness was a hair stylist plucked off the street. Sure she was obnoxious and won’t be winning any awards anytime soon, but her character was supposed to be an annoying Ukrainian party girl anyways.
Still, the escapades of Frank Martin won’t ever be in this same league as James Bond, Jason Bourne, or John McClane—and that is the fault of writers Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen. It’s unfortunate, if they would have spent a little more time on their scripts fleshing out the plots, developing certain characters, and most importantly—filling in all the gaping holes, ‘The Transporter’ could’ve been a real contender.
Lionsgate wraps up the ‘Transporter 3’ package on a BD-50 with a 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC (2.35:1 aspect ratio) transfer that’s nearly as spiffy as the paint job on Frank Martin’s Audi.
The picture is exceptionally clear with a rich and bold color palette that's very easy on the eyes. The image has strong depth and details pop off the screen. There are many close-ups of Frank and Valentina on their road trip, and skin textures are so impressive you can count every one of the young lady’s freckles. Black levels are also very solid, and there’s a small amount of natural grain present to give it a film look.
Even though I was very pleased with this transfer overall, there are a few minimal issues to bring up here. I noticed the odd white speckle and only two instances of very mild bouts of noise on the image, but both of these were really hard to see unless you’re specifically scrutinizing the transfer. The other thing was a slight crushing to shadows that obscured some detailing, but again these cases were very few and far between. That being said, while the image has a few tiny flaws, it’s still hard not to call this one eye-candy.
The U.S. version of the ‘Transporter 3’ Blu-ray is also region-locked and therefore will only function in Region A compatible PS3s and standalone players.
Lionsgate delivers another top-notch lossless English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track that, to put it mildly, simply rocks.
Here we have a very aggressive sound mix that’ll keep all you action junkies grinning from ear to ear. Next to Statham, the bass is clearly the star of the show, rarely having a chance to wind down between the rip-roaring music and revved up engines. Every shifting gear can be felt through the floorboards, not to mention a few crashes and explosions thrown in for good measure. Surrounds are also fantastic, as even subtle background noises can be heard with clarity—like during the casual fishing scenes with Frank and Tarconi for example. Of course, dialog takes a backseat to the rest of the sounds in these types of films, but it still comes through clear without any noticeable issues. I wish some of the other studios would follow in Lionsgate’s footsteps in the audio department since they sure do seem to be on a roll lately.
Also included on the disc is a French Dolby Digital 5.1 track, as well as optional English and Spanish subtitles.
Nearly all of the bonus features on this Blu-ray are the same ones found on the 2-Disc Fully Loaded Edition DVD.
’Transporter 3’ is a cheesy, yet moderately fun adrenaline-pumping action flick - nothing more, and nothing less. Personally, I got more enjoyment out of this one than the ridiculously over-the-top first sequel, but to each his own I guess. I’m sure fans looking to complete their collections will be pleased with the superb video and sound on this Blu-ray, although the extras kind of stall the engine. If you haven’t seen any of the ‘Transporter’ films, I’d recommend test driving the first one before shifting into second and third gear.