Published at: Nov. 21, 2008, 3:40 a.m. CST by Moriarty
Hey, everyone. “Moriarty” here.
Vern is the greatest writer about film writing about film anywhere that film is written about. If you disagree, I will pay a big guy to punch you in a soft place.
I haven't seen TRANSPORTER 3 yet, but thanks to this review, I feel like I have. Every word's a gem, Vern. Thanks for the huge Friday morning belly laugh.
Check it out. Tell me I'm wrong.
Here's a test for you. How many times did you rewind the part in TRANSPORTER 2 where he sees in a reflection that there's a bomb on the bottom of his car so he drives the car off a pile of junk, flips, successfully hooks the bomb onto a nearby crane and lands the car safely?
If you answered 3 or more, like me, then you will probaly be disappointed in TRANSPORTER 3, like I was. If you prefer part 1 then all bets are off, but me, I'm strictly a part 2 man. The first one had some good action scenes, like the sliding-around-in-oil-on-the-ground fight. But it put too much emphasis on the melodrama. I don't care how cool he looks in a suit, that's not gonna make it interesting to hear him keep talking about his fucking "rules." Oh geez I wonder what would happen if he ever broke one of those rules he won't fucking shut up about, I guess it's kind of a moot point though because obviously he would nev-- WHUH? He broke his own rules? What's gonna happen now? We're through the looking glass, people.
Part 2 was a work of beauty though, a complete re-engineering that chops out everything that was dull and fills the empty space with added awesomeness. They still have the elaborate Hong Kong style fights, they raise the level of preposterous stunts/effects shots, they introduce more colorful characters. They got all kinds of crazy shit: a skeleton thrown at a guy, a firehose as a weapon, a car straddling two buildings. Frank jumps a jetski onto a street, jumps over two colliding cars, has a kickboxing match inside a spinning plane. How many movies have a female assassin in a sexy nurse costume, garters and Tammy Faye style smeared makeup driving a stolen police car? Not many. Later she is impaled on a wall of spikes in her boyfriend's apartment, which in my opinion was an unsafe thing to have but I guess that's easy for me to say, I wasn't there. Hindsight is 20/20. Anyway, the point is that I love unapologetically over-the-top action when it's well executed, and TRANSPORTER 2 delivers.
(get it, he is delivering a package, that was a Gene Shalit line. But I meant it.)
The less talk, more rock approach works so well I was convinced it was half an hour shorter than the first one, but IMDb says it was only a few minutes shorter. This one is about ten minutes longer, but with less content.
At the beginning we find Frank Transporter apparently retired. He enjoys fishing with his wacky French inspector pal and watching fishing programs at home. But then suddenly a car crashes through his living room driven by a guy who he suggested for a job he turned down. The guy is wearing a bracelet which causes him to explode when he is taken out of the car. Then Frank gets knocked out and forced to take over the job, which involves driving some freckle faced Ukrainian gal who for some reason he thinks is supposed to be his partner but everybody knows is really "the package," the kidnapped daughter of an EPA commissioner being blackmailed to sign over something or other to some industrialists who want to dump toxic waste or some shit.
Okay, so the BATTLE ROYALE 2 type gimmick with the exploding bracelet is ridiculous, I give them points for that. But the standing-around-talking-about-shit-nobody-cares-about to entertainment ratio is unbearably high, not just compared to part 2 but even compared to the first one. In the best scene another driver takes Frank's car, which means he'll blow up when it gets 75 feet away. So he steals a bike and rides it through a factory, jumps through a window and back into the car. There's also a funny car-onto-train jump, a part where he gets thrown through a brick wall like it's a cartoon, and a fight where he takes off his jacket, shirt and tie and uses them as weapons. There are definitely some good moments, but they are spaced apart by, you know, other types of moments. Lots of them. When you finally get to the crazy shit it kind of feels out of place.
The director is newcomer Olivier Megaton. It's a great name but he doesn't live up to it with this movie, he MAYBE directs like an Olivier Halfastickofdynamite. Let me give you an example. There's a scene where the girl can't reach the gas station restroom without setting off the bracelet, so she brazenly pees on the floor. Right after that some enemies drive by... and then there is a car chase. If this was TRANSPORTER 2, and maybe even if it was THE TRANSPORTER, there would've been a huge fight and somebody would've slipped in that puddle of piss, I guarantee you. In this one there's not as much action and there's not as much gags in the action. It seems lazy compared to the other two. The fights are still choreographed by Corey Yuen, but he doesn't do as many, and some of them are hard to make out because of that chaotic editing and shakycam virus that his been infecting all the modern action movies.
The train stuff made me laugh, but as a finale it seems a little weak. We've seen similar train-related ludicrousness in TORQUE and (yes, I have to say it) UNDER SIEGE 2: DARK TERRITORY. I don't think Luc Besson's heart was in it when he wrote this one. Maybe he's lost his creative focus because he's still upset about the Weinsteins redubbing his fairy cartoon with Snoop Dogg's voice.
The character of Frank Transporter does evolve slightly. At no point does he seem weirdly racist. (Somebody told me those were young coconuts he used as boxing gloves against the black guy in part 2 but they sure look like watermelons to me.) Also he becomes an ex-gay in this one. He actually denies being gay while turning down heterosexual advances, but it still has the same kind of subtext as in part 2 so I'm gonna still consider him gay. He's clearly thinking with his dick though, I really gotta question his judgment falling for this particular transportee. The scene that brings him back to the vagina is also the scene that made me start to hate the female lead. This is a crazy bitch who has been lying to him and treating him like shit, then she pissed on the floor and stole some vodka, she gets all giggly and steals the keys to the car, dances around threatening to blow them both up and forces him to take off his shirt and kiss her. Yeah, great catch there, Frank. Totally worth it.
Yeah I know, some talkbacker will say some cliche about how "crazy bitches are better in bed, heh heh heh," but come on. Is that worth cleaning up after her when she pisses in his car? This is not a decision that's gonna work out in Frank's favor. Plus if he likes em crazy he should've gone for Lola in part 2. She was way hotter and had better hygiene.
I consider TRANSPORTER 3 an underwhelming installment. Too bad, because we could really use a good silly action series in the 2000s. But he's only on strike 2, so I guess I'd watch a part 4 if they make one. I have a rule against watching the sequels for movies I didn't like in the first place, but rules are meant to be listed, bragged about and then broken.