It's time for Frank Martin (Jason Statham) to find a new line of work. Once the no-nonsense, reliable driver who let nothing stand in the way of completing a job, Martin has withered to a hammy, wisecracking cheeseball who can be reduced to Jello-O by a redhead in a short skirt. And a no-talent, obnoxious redhead at that.
Summarizing the plot of Transporter 3 is pointless. You get the idea by now, right? Frank Martin has been hired to deliver a package and he's going to race around in his big black Audi, step outside on occasion to kick some tail, and, yes, take his shirt off at some point. The big plot device this time is that Martin is forced to wear a sensor that will oblitorate him and the car if he steps out of range. This sounds cooler than it really is, and ultimately matters very little to the story.
Transporter 3 feels like a collection of leftovers from the first two movies. The action is still occasionally clever, but it's less frequent and does not succeed in diverting the viewer from all the stilted acting scenes that came before it. The highlight is a BMX-biking scene in which Statham bikes through a wherehouse to keep up with his speeding Audi outside. It's entertaining mostly because it is so utterly ridiculous.
There are many problems with Transporter 3. Statham's heart doesn't really seem to be in it any more; Olivier Megaton's directing is sloppy and directionless; the story pacing is wildly uneven.
All of that pales in comparison to the painful performance of newcomer Natalya Rudakova as Valentina. Producer Luc Besson claims to have discovered the young "actress" on the streets of Manhattan, whisked her away to Hollywood for acting classes, and cast her in Transporter 3. Something tells me Besson left out some details. Sure, Rudakova is visually striking, but any semblence of acting prowess that Besson claims to have witnessed is nowhere to be found on this celluloid.
The first Transporter movie worked for what it was: a creative, low-budget action vehicle for Jason Statham, who showed signs of laying claim to the action crown left vacant by the likes of Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Van Damme, and Segal. But the series has gone nowhere with two lackluster sequels. With Crank 2 already coming in 2009, maybe it's time for Statham to make a conscious effort to track down more original material. This year's sleeper hit, The Bank Job, was a good start and evidence that the brutish Brit is capable of more than just big, dumb action.