November 19, 2008 / 1:31 AM / 11 years ago

"Transporter 3" a new low for the action series

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Jason Statham returns for a third go-round as mercenary courier Frank Martin in creator Luc Besson’s lucrative “Transporter” series, but this time he’s firing blanks.

Actor Jason Statham poses for a portrait for Reuters in New York, March 3, 2008. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/Files

Easily the worst in a trilogy that has been notable mainly for the presence of its everyman action star, “Transporter 3” is a nonsensical, choppily edited bore, with awful dialogue (penned by Besson and frequent collaborator Robert Mark Kamen) constantly cramping Statham’s usual action-speaks-louder-than-words style.

The actor’s loyal international fan base should ensure handsome box office returns, but closer to home, Thanksgiving weekend viewers already tripped up on tryptophan could be extra slow on the uptake. It opens in North America on November 26 via Lionsgate.

While the “Transporter” series has secretly aspired to being something of a poor man’s “Bourne Identity” peppered with a bit of 007-style international intrigue, this one’s pure junk Bond.

Despite his adamant refusals, Statham’s ex-Special Forces op again finds himself in the transporting business when a nasty government official (Robert Knepper) has him outfitted with an explosive bracelet that will detonate if he ventures beyond 100 feet from his car.

Even worse than that lethal, high-tech accessory is his cargo: the thoroughly irritating kidnapped daughter (irritatingly played by newcomer Natalya Rudakova) of the head of the Environmental Protection Agency from Ukraine (Jeroen Krabbe).

Their trek from Marseilles to Odessa via Stuttgart and Budapest (all played by Ukraine) is fraught with peril, mainly from painful banter that makes the stuff between Grammy presenters sound downright poetic by comparison.

If you didn’t know Statham could handily get the job done from his previous action movie turns, you certainly wouldn’t be able to tell here, with incoming director Olivier Megaton (his professional last name takes its cue from his birthdate — the August 6 dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima) favoring rapid-cut sequences that often obscure the actor’s fancy stuntwork.

It’s still preferable to those drawn-out exchanges while trapped in that Audi with forced love interest Rudakova, whose mysterious effect on Statham requires him to display his bare torso enough times to give Matthew McConaughey a run for his shirtless money.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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