The good news is that no-nonsense martial arts expert and driver extraordinaire Frank Martin (Jason Statham, The Transporter and Transporter 3 ) is back. The bad news is he’s acquired a girlfriend. Valentina (first-timer Natalya Rudakova) is beautiful and brash and has great freckles. But oh, boy, she is one coarse, crude little twit. If these two weren’t likely to die a gruesome death at any second of this movie, my opinion is that Frank, a very elegant guy despite the fact that he’s always killing bad guys, would never give a gal like Valentina a second glance. My opinion of course. My husband thought Valentina was terrific.
Frank Martin is minding his own business at his home in Marseilles when a car comes crashing into the house. Moments later, the injured driver is blown to pieces in the ambulance. A nasty villain named Johnson, played admirably with intelligence and an evil sneer by Robert Knepper (TV’s Prison Break), kidnaps Martin and makes him an offer he can’t refuse. He must drive his car, the fabulous black Audi A8, to Odessa on the Black Sea and follow Johnson’s curt instructions precisely. He’ll be monitored by a GPS. There’s an irremovable detonating device clamped to his wrist — if he goes more than 75 feet from the car–the device will automatically detonate. Worse than that, he’s acquired a passenger. This is Valentina, a drug-soaked, vodka guzzling party girl who just happens to be the daughter of the Ukraine environment czar. The nasties have kidnapped the girl to force her father to sign a contract allowing them to ship toxic waste into his country.
You’ll notice that the environment and those who want to waste it play central roles in several action movies this season. There’s the faux environmentalist bad guys in Quantum of Solace and in The Day The Earth Stood Still, aliens are planning to wipe out the human race because they haven’t been good green stewards. While it’s good to see that the environment’s sorrows are inspiring screen tales, so far those tales have all been so ludicrous that the sorrows don’t seem real.
Back to the action. Valentina, dressed in a gold lame mini-skirt, her mascara streaming down her cheeks, her stomach growling from food fantasies and too much alcohol, fears she may never have sex again since they’re going to be blown up. But Frank performs amazing stunts with the car, and then in a garage he single-handedly fights off a dozen bad guys, and Valentina decides he’s not so old after all. I can’t figure out if she finds him sexy after he has taken his shirt off to reveal his gorgeous naked torso (just speaking for myself) or if she’s just turned on by the fact that he’s so darn good at choreographed violence (that’s what the screen writers have her say). He, being a professional driver and having strict rules of conduct, isn’t really interested in distracting himself from the mission with a misguided dalliance. But hey, he is a guy and he might be dead anytime soon too, so after Valentina shimmies and shakes and wriggles her finger at him, he changes his mind and they spend a few hours together in the grass near the car.
Thank goodness this whole romance thing is only a subplot or I’d have left the theatre screaming. No, this is a Transporter movie and that means maniacal, preposterous and totally fun car stunts. In this aspect, Transporter 3 definitely gives you a bang for your buck. Martin’s car gets pummeled and plowed and even drowned, and it still keeps on going at top speed. Except for that annoying stop in the grass, Transporter 3 is one outlandish, non-stop adrenaline-pumping chase. The car chase through the train, that’s through not at, is so exciting there’s no way any other movie stunt is going to top it. But more interesting throughout the film is the many ways that Martin has to figure out how to stay within 75 feet of the car, especially when a bad guy hijacks it and speeds off without him. In addition to doing his own stunts, looking good in a starched white shirt whether it’s on or wrapped around bad guys, Jason Statham’s hero is fearsomely, reliably resourceful.