Transporter 3 Review

The Film

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Some people are lucky. David Cameron must grin from ear to ear as he flosses away feelings of failure, certain in the good fortune that made him Leader of the Opposition whilst the grumpiest and least attractive Labour leader ever flounders in his own crapitude. The former Mrs Phil Collins must also embrace her life with the knowledge that she no longer has to say "that sounds nice dear" whilst dolling out a mid-morning cuppa. For both of these people the source of their good luck is crystal clear, yet why is Jason Statham a movie star, a marquee name, and a former partner of Kelly Brook? That no one knows.

In a world where Seagal can only be circumnavigated with GPS, where Van Damme has gone straight, and where Vin Diesel does Withnail and I impressions, Statham is king. His action films generate strong box office, do very well on DVD, and get a severe panning off anyone who hasn't reconciled themselves to his growing dominance. Transporter 3 is his third outing as Frank Martin, a driver come fixer who always delivers.

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Any student of the previous films, and indeed any film scripted by Luc Besson, will know that each of this series features a beautiful woman, a possible world ending calamity and lots of fighting and car chases. Basically if you are a joy riding, violence junkie with a ken for thin women, who are simultaneously over and under dressed, then Frank Martin is the man to entertain you. Car porn, tons of one guy beating up on a gang, and some validation of Statham's heterosexuality is thrown in - that is a Transporter movie.

The third film is possibly the worst script of the series so far, with the most outlandish of escapes and no character written with any relation to the real world, and strangely it is also the best directed, shot, and edited of the three instalments. Our hero is roped into some business involving an ecologically minded Ukrainian politician, his feckless but pretty daughter, and some Eastern European Mafia. If you thought about it, the idea of impending ecological disaster being averted by a man driving his souped up Audi at breakneck speeds might seem a little ironic, but the key is not to think about it.

It would be easy to list everything that's a bit ropey in this film. The female lead's dialogue is frequently incomprehensible, her character is annoying and I would have shot her about 10 minutes in. The breathtaking stunts with the car defy anything that could be described as credible - you can't land an Audi onto a moving train carriage without killing passengers or yourself. It would also be easy to note that no one ever thinks to shoot Frank rather than take him on in fisticuffs, and just why are the baddies so reasonable at times when they are blackmailing murderers and environmental savages?

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Still, I can't pretend that I didn't really enjoy this piece of stupid nonsense. That I didn't find myself applauding the endless escapism, ridiculous exposition, and laughable sight of Statham being towered over by his co-star. I am afraid that one of the joys of Statham's unfathomable success is that he does get away with it, that his films are just plain silly and proud of it, and the pairing of Besson's inability to write narrative with Statham's particular charm does make for entertainment. I can't ignore the fact that kids are probably out joy riding and beating pensioners up because of it, but Transporter 3 is escapist fun that I will find myself watching again.

I don't understand how Statham gets away with it. Is he really good looking, is he an exceptional actor, or does he have a way with words? Does his success make sense, or is he just a short bald ex-athlete who fell in the movie pond and came out smelling of roses? Lucky, lucky, lucky.

Transfer and Sound

Directed by a former cinematographer, this is one handsome looking film with beautiful framing, use of lights and gels. The transfer does the photography justice with a parched slightly greenish aspect throughout, great detail and plenty of deep contrast. The palette of the film is largely restrained to shades and there is excellent shadow detail here and variation in the darkness to keep things moody and beautiful. Edge enhancement is no problem, and the transfer has a light reassuring level of grain which doesn't seem to have been manipulated at all. Visually, this is very very nice.

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The two included English language tracks are both lossless with a LPCM stereo track and a True HD 5.1 option. I far preferred the latter for its surround capabilities. This is the kind of movie where a surround mix must put you in the centre of the action with blows and bullets all around, threats from every side and a thundering revving engine coming from the LFE channel. And by 'eck this track gives you everything you could want with the music pumping and the effects scattered across the soundstage to further heighten the experience. Marvellous.

Discs and Special Features

Quite reasonably, the extras here are relatively short snippets often accompanied by the director that won't trouble the attention span for too long. The making of featurette deals with the intention to make a movie like Die Hard, the lack of time to arrange the stunts, accommodating the actor's strike and showing that for all his good fortune Statham works bloody hard doing his own stunts.

Very short pieces on special effects, car stunts, set design, and storyboard comparisons complete the visual extras, and if you want to know how the set pieces were done these will tell you in little detail. Megaton offers commentary on all these featurettes and on the main movie as well. His English is not perfect but he speaks well as he explains that the challenge of the film was to deliver a "bigger film" with less money and less time than the previous entries in the series. His commentary sets itself up as revealing all the "mysteries" of his film but mostly concentrates on the technical elements of the action with a few stories about casting and actors. He is likeable enough and knows when to shut up but I can't imagine that you'll want to put this option on rather than the excellent audio tracks.


Sheesh shoot me - I enjoyed it and I shouldn't. This is an extras light blu-ray with lovely transfer and sound.

7 out of 10
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out of 10

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