It’s reassuring to know that on an evening that started with me meeting up with a friend for drinks, that then happened to involve an attempt to explain the appeal of 80s action movies (which are ’accidentally’ rammed full of homo-erotica), and went on to detail the bonding experience that can take place between two straight men who witness the retina-burning sight of American Ninja’s Steve James (RIP) legs akimbo, lying on a beach in his tight red shorts while slapping a half naked, sweaty Michael Dudikoff on the back, that the evening ended with Transporter 3. Furthermore, as the evening progressed I spoke to another writer and explained the view that most action movie directors see a scantily clad, oiled up man as the pinnacle of machismo, without any awareness of how things actually look And then I watched Transporter 3.
Transporter 3 demonstrated all of the points I’d been discussing beforehand. It even had the mighty Statham’s character, Frank, wake up in just his shorts after a stint of being unconscious, looking as though the bad guys responsible had covered him with a fine sheen of grease, or at the very least turned up the temperature in the room to ‘man sweat’ levels. The great thing about T3, though, is that it embraces all its clichés with open arms, a fantastic sense of humour and even makes reference to the overt sexuality of all the shirtless fighting (nay, whipping!), as Frank’s Ukrainian female passenger gazes longingly at his fighting prowess, while later accusing him of being “the gay” when he rebuffs her advances. His retort to her accusation is to say “I’m not ‘the gay’,” and had she ever considered that he just wasn’t in the mood? Proof, indeed, that Freud’s head would explode if he ever came close to this film.
The humour in T3 is arguably even more of an asset to it than the action sequences. From the opening dialogue between Frank and returning character Tarconi (played by the fantastic François Berléand) things feel sharper and more self aware, making the film as a whole immensely entertaining. The strangest part of this Transporter is that at times it’s so very slick it actually verges on feeling like a proper film and I don’t mean any disrespect by that, merely that in its increasing similarities to the likes of Bourne and Bond (location trotting, the casting of Jeroen Krabbé) it is actually in danger of becoming comparable, though more as a spoof than anything.
The plot though remains ludicrously high concept, as is befitting for any self-respecting Jason Statham film. This time he can’t be more than 75 feet from his car without his newly acquired bracelet blowing him sky high, leading to the kind of ingenuity stunt-wise that makes T3 a closer relation to Statham’s other (soon to be franchise) Crank, although it can never quite match the sheer insanity of that film. Special mention, though should go to the scene which sees him chase down a car on a BMX, while The Stooges’ I Wanna Be Your Dog blares out, which in itself gets a big gold star from me.
The only real letdown for me, as has been the case far too many times with action films over the last few years, was the editing. When Corey Yuan is choreographing fight scenes, it seems like a criminal waste to fall into the gutless, stylistic trap of making each shot last no more than two seconds. Admittedly, it never quite got as out of hand as the opening car chase in Quantum of Solace, but then what possibly could? I’m getting increasingly tired of losing track of who’s doing what during a fight the minute the editor decides to have a seizure ,and it needs to stop right now. It still saddens me that the original action cuts from the first Transporter have never been restored. Even Statham comments on how they had a much better flow before they were cut to grab a lower rating.
And so how to rate the film itself. Without doubt, the part I find most difficult in any review. Transporter 3 is crying out for a gold star, four of them to be more precise. But in a bid to stick to the system I’m going to have to award it four normal stars, especially having just read the critical slating that every other writer has bestowed upon it. Strangely, at the press screening, people actually clapped when it finished, having laughed all the way through at a film which I thought was entertaining in the best way.
All hail King Statham – Crank 2: High Voltage can’t come soon enough.
Duncan would like to dedicate this article to all the heterosexual men out there, who fight on a daily basis against adversity from their girlfriends, who just don’t understand how growing up with 80s action movies informed their influential minds of the way men should behave. Further evidence of our confusion can be found in this rather exciting piece of news http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000230/news#ni0615129 in which the writer (who isn’t me) exclaims, “My pants have shrunk!” You are not alone, brother.