Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I'm finally starting to rent DVDs from Redbox

I just rented Transporter 3 while home for 2 weeks on business. I loved the movie, but I have to say, this reviewer's comments echoed mine almost to the letter:

Transporter 3

Transporter3_2284 Much as I do with Dwayne Johnson, I have a deal with Jason Statham -- not with Dwayne Johnson or Jason Statham as people, but rather with Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham as brands: If you are in a movie, I say as part of this deal, I will give it a chance. And, much like Johnson, Statham usually lives up to his end of the deal, with the kind of reliability that simply makes it all the more painful when he does not. Case in point? Transporter 3.

Bringing back Statham's Frank Martin from the earlier Transporter films, you do not expect Transporter 3 to have a complex plot any more than you expect a tin roof barbecue shack to have an amusing wine list; in both cases, dig in and enjoy. Frank is a freelance courier and tough guy who drives for a living, getting tricky cargo from point 'a' to point 'b' with a maximum of speed and a minimum of questions. The earlier Transporter films have seen Frank hired and then betrayed, so it's nice that Transporter 3 figuratively cuts to the chase by betraying Frank from the jump so it can literally cut to the chase.

Frank's knocked out, waking up to find a new piece of ominous-looking techno-jewelry on his wrist and a new employer, Mr. Johnson (Robert Kenpper, who has a great capacity for playing the cold corporate soullessness of the modern villain). Frank is told he has to drive a young lady, Valentina (Natalya Rudakova) and two bags across Europe, stat. And if he gets too far from the car? The bracelet on his wrist blows up.

Task, timeline, terrible consequences at stake: Transporter 3 has everything an action pitch needs in our modern era, and it's hard to not be enthused when Frank, separated from the car, chases after it on foot and then on a hijacked bicycle while Iggy and the Stooge's "Now I Wanna Be Your Dog" plays at top volume on the soundtrack.

The problem is that it is nearly impossible to be enthused when Rudakova is on-screen or opens her mouth or delivering her dialogue in an achingly flat monotone. The dialogue she's given is idiotic, to be certain -- much is made of why Frank doesn't seem to find her sexy, until she realizes the reason for Frank's disinterest: "You're the gay!" Later, when death seems certain, Valentina does the reasonable thing, pops a tablet of Ecstasy and purrs about how she "wants to make the sex one more time. ..."

Director Oliver Megaton (who has an awesome name, I have to point out) knows how to get stunts and fights and chases, but he doesn't know how to get Rudakov to deliver a line in anything but a bored, bleak drone. I know that action films are, by and large, not progressive; I know that being young and slender is, in our modern era, enough to get an actress hired. (If you added Rudkova's weight and age, I'd be amazed if you got into triple-digits.) But I also know that Transporter 3 would, in fact, be better if its female lead were better; at the very least, I might not have broken into inappropriate hysterical laughter every time Rudakov pouted and purred her way on-screen.

The DVD is depressingly no-frills -- no commentary, no behind-the-scenes look at the stunt magic, just the movie and the trailer and that's it. I don't know that there'll be a Transporter 4, but if there is, I hope that the people behind it learn from Transporter 3 and either have a real actress play opposite Statham or, better yet, remove the obligatory cliché of having a love interest altogether; when Statham's exploring the relationship between his foot and the gas -- or his fist and some bad guy's face -- that's all the relationship material the Transporter series needs.

Posted by James Rocchi on March 11, 2009 at 09:30 AM in DVD Reviews, From the Critic | Permalink

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