January 28, 2013

Transporter 3

Transporter 3 is the kind of movie that convinces me that the best James Bond movies being made these days don't have James Bond in them.

The Bond franchise grew silly and self-referential during Roger Moore's waning days, and has now swung to the opposite extreme. It doesn't help to have your lead actor running around trashing the role. First and foremost, Bond is good at his job and enjoys it. That means the actor has to enjoy it too. No angst, please.

As a case in point, no Bond flick since the demise of Sean Connery has outdone Cars 2. A car co-stars in the Transporter 3 too, an Audi A8 W12. Finn McMissile would see in it a kindred spirit. Though by the end of the movie I was thinking of Tom Hanks's indestructible luggage in Joe Versus the Volcano.

A reliable thriller formula is to stick two people together against their will; things blow up if they wander apart. In this case, the two people are stuck to each other and to the aforementioned Audi. The steps Frank Martin (Jason Statham) must take to stay with his car create the most entertaining scenes in the movie.

It's a total gimmick. Whatever proximity device this bomb uses defies every law of physics. I'm also pretty sure that the odds of even an Audi A8 W12 running perfectly well after being totally submerged in water are about zero. But playing by the gimmick's rules makes it all work.

One of the biggest problems with superhero movies are the supervillains and their stupid plots to take over the world. As I've said before, "superbad is superboring." It's much better to have the bad guys set out to do something straightforward and make that complicated instead.

The big bad boss (Robert Knepper) has a simple goal to accomplish: kidnap the daughter (Rudakova Valentina, sporting the cutest face of freckles ever) of a Ukranian minister (Jeroen Krabbé from The Fugitive, this time playing a good guy) in order to get him to sign off on a lucrative but illegal business deal.

Of course, the big bad boss goes about it in the most stupendously complicated way imaginable. But like the car, there wouldn't be much of a story without all the stupendous complications. At least nobody's trying to destroy the world.

Statham's Frank Martin has a lot in common with Jim Caviezel's John Reese. He's an ordinary guy in a cool suit who just wants to get the job done. (Until he takes off his shirt, that is, so they keep coming up with excuses for him to take off his shirt; Statham was once a championship platform diver.)

The one off-note early on is that it takes him too long to figure out that his passenger is "the package." Duh. But they also give him an "M" (François Berléand) to do the heavy thinking, again, much like Person of Interest. Nobody watches Transporter films for the deep thoughts and social commentary.

You want big fight scenes that ultimately make no sense? Technology that makes no sense? Chase scenes that make no sense? Cute romantic interludes that make no sense? Stuff exploding all over the place? And a lead actor with two facial expressions and a droll delivery? Check, check, check, check, check and check.

Turn on the ignition, turn off the brain, and have fun watching things go zoom and boom.

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# posted by Anonymous Anonymous
10/10/2015 4:01 AM   
Definitely not a brain burner, but for the reasons you said highly entertaining anyway!