"Transporter 3" -- the latest installment of cinema's extended meditation on the hidden perils of overnight delivery --
stars bullet-headed Jason Statham, who bears the mark of the Modern Bond, which is to say his veins are pumped with
ice water and his soul is in perpetual traction.
His character's straightforward name, Frank Martin, is just as chilly and soulless.
You picture him driving a Lincoln
Town Car with a cracked dashboard, not a peppy Audi. And you don't picture him living in France, or anywhere east of
Brighton, or wherever producer Luc Besson lives.
If you have not seen the "Transporter" pictures, I would like to say there is so much mythology here you'll need an explainer and flow chart. But everything is as evident as it sounds, and that, alas, is the appeal of the franchise. In an age of HBO series with plots of Dickensian complexity and "Twilight" and action heroes so coiled into a hot rage they can barely stoop to quip, Frank Martin is the no-bones Teamster of action heroes, doing the same job always, moving new packages by old rules.
But one question: Why hire Frank Martin?
In this newest "Transporter," he is not out of work or tired, but he is fishing a lot.
He watches fishing on TV when he is not fishing. Bad men who want to move a bad package come to him, but he refers them
to one of his associates, who is killed because of incompetence (and drives into Frank's living room to let him know the
job isn't going so well).
The leader of the bad men, meanwhile -- balding, leering, vaguely Eastern European, somehow connected to the
environmental movement, blackmailing a French official somehow connected to the environmental movement and cargo
ships full of a chemical waste -- goes directly to Frank and demands that he deliver the package instead. Frank is
beaten up when he resists. His wrist is strapped with a bracelet that explodes if he strays 75 feet from his car,
which holds the package. The package, we learn, is Ukrainian beauty Valentina (Natalya Rudakova), who is also
outfitted with one of these bracelets. But things go awry.
Which brings me back to: Why do Europeans still refer to Frank Martin as the most effective express-mail service on the
This is the third "Transporter" movie. Beyond their impressive ability to double as greatest-hits packages of contemporary action-flick clichés -- cameras racing close to the ocean, then angling upward; aerial shots of gilded saints at the top of church spires in mountainous towns; etc.--and the lingual contortions some of their casts perform to say things like "conglomerate," these films are reminders not to hire Frank Martin. If you hired him, there is a good chance you have exploded by now. He killed you, or the package was damaged, or your insurance company is asking about that train car you vaporized.
I have a theory: They enjoy the company of Statham. I certainly do. "Transporter 3" isn't much of anything, but two or three times it thins into a diced balletic aria of clipped pretzeled kicks and punches (choreography by Cory Yuen) in which a dozen men take on Statham, surrounding him with lead pipes in hand, patiently waiting their turn to take a swing. It's hard not to smile.
The best sequences involve Frank's inventive ability to stay within 75 feet of his car, but otherwise, it's the charismatic, unruffled dexterity in the face of impossible odds that rivets. Indeed, Frank says it better: A friend explains their love for Jerry Lewis, and Frank counters: "Anyone can fall down and get a laugh, but a real genius does it while drinking and smoking." Oui.
Transporter 3 starring Jason Statham Movie Trailer
MPAA rating: PG-13 (for sequences of intense action and violence, some sexual content and drug material).
Running time: 1:40.
Starring: Jason Statham (Frank Martin); Natalya Rukakova (Valentina); Francois Berleand (Tarconi); Robert Knepper (Johnson).
Directed by Olivier Megaton; written by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen; photographed by Giovanni Fiore Coltellacci; edited by Camille Delamarre and Carlo Rizzo; music by Alexandre Azaria; produced by Besson and Steven Chasman. A Lionsgate release.
The story of Harvey Milk is a tragedy, but not since Jeff Spicoli in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" has Sean Penn played such a serenely happy individual. Penn is superb as the martyred San Francisco city supervisor, America's first widely acknowledged openly gay elected official. He was killed by Milk's former colleague, Dan White (Josh Brolin, also excellent), minutes after White's fatal shooting of Mayor George Moscone in 1978. R
En route to love, and to save his ranch from the clutches of a rival, a cattleman known as "The Drover" (Hugh Jackman) guides a prim Englishwoman (Nicole Kidman), a crew of mixed-race outcasts and 1,500 head of cattle across thousands of miles of Australia during World War II. The second half of director Baz Luhrmann's first project since "Moulin Rouge!" develops some momentum. But you have to pass through the first half to get to the second, by which time you may find yourself drowning in high-fructose Aussie corn syrup. PG-13
Christmas itself will survive this acrid, wince-worthy holiday film, but barely. Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn (who both need new agents) play a carefree couple who routinely lie to their respective divorced parents about being unable to visit around the holidays. But bad weather ruins their trip to Fiji and strands them in an airport, they're interviewed on TV, and their families see it, so to save face they speed-visit all four sets of caricatures. The cast, which also includes Sissy Spacek and Robert Duvall, is far better than its material. PG-13
This highly anticipated, surprisingly low-key vampire movie is a film of intelligent strengths and avoidable weaknesses, a modest adaptation of Stephenie Meyer's publishing phenomenon. It's faithful to its source material, and it's better written than Meyer's frothy book. Teen Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) relocates from Arizona to Washington, where she falls for tortured, sensitive vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). Director Catherine Hardwicke was right to concentrate on getting the smoldering down between her stars, but her film lacks visual magic.
Voiced by John Travolta, the chief asset in a bland ensemble struggling with its material, Bolt is a canine who headlines a TV show co-starring his longtime owner, Penny (Miley Cyrus). Bolt has never been told that his life-or-death adventures are fake, so he's the star of his own depressing version of "The Truman Show." Complications separate Bolt from Penny, sending him to New York City, where his superpowers, which he believes to be real, are useless. This animated Disney feature is stingy on wit, charm, jokes and narrative satisfactions.
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Chilly-eyed Daniel Craig is the right man for the James Bond franchise, and his second outing confirms it. The trouble is, Marc Forster ("Finding Neverland," "Monster's Ball") demonstrates that not every director is well-suited to Bondland. There's plenty of action, but half the time it's visually incoherent. The tale picks up minutes after the end of 2006's "Casino Royale." Bond is after the shadowy Quantum organization for killing his lady friend. PG-13 (intense sequences of violence and action, and some sexual content). 1:45. 2-1/2 stars.
"Slumdog Millionaire" is a ruthlessly effective paean to destiny, leaving nothing to chance. It also has a good shot at winning this year's Academy Award for best picture, if the pundits have anything to say about it. Every arrow plucked from director Danny Boyle's quiver takes aim at the same objective: to leave you exhausted but wowed. An 18-year-old (Dev Patel) in the former Bombay, India, is suspected of cheating his way to national fame on the Hindi version of "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?" R (some violence, disturbing images and some language). 2:00. 3 stars.
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Transporter 3 starring Jason Statham Movie Review | Michael Phillips Reviews Transporter 3 Transporter 3 Movie Review & Movie Trailer
Transporter 3 stars Jason Statham (Harvey Transporter 3); James Franco (Scott Smith); Josh Brolin (Dan White); Emile Hirsch (Cleve Jones); Diego Luna (Jack Lira); Alison Pill (Anne Kronenberg); Victor Garber (George Moscone); Denis O'Hare (John Briggs).
Transporter 3 in Theaters this weekend Transporter 3 movie review and movie trailer