A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that, like its predecessors, the third movie in the Transporter franchise features extensive, visceral martial-arts action (not to mention constant violation of any conception of safe driving). There are shootings, explosions, mutilations, and more. Also expect a good bit of strong language (including "f--k") and some kissing and partial nudity (buttocks). The female lead takes Ecstasy mixed with vodka at one point, and other characters smoke and drink. While the film nominally has a pro-environmental regulation message, it's paper-thin wrapping around a slick, glossy package of violence and velocity.
What's the story?
Professional "transporter" Frank Martin (Jason Statham) is out of the business and enjoying his retirement when adventure literally comes crashing into his home in the form of a car driven by the friend Frank recommended for a job he passed up. Soon Frank finds himself the replacement driver, taking passenger Valentina (Natalya Rudakiva) across Europe at the behest of heavily armed, deeply criminal men who've strapped Frank and Valentina with explosive bracelets that will detonate if they get too far from the car. She's the daughter of a European minister preventing the docking and off-loading of ships loaded with illegal toxic waste; her kidnapping is the leverage the villains intend to use to get their boats unloaded. Can Frank escape the clutches of the bad guys alive while rescuing the girl?
Is it any good?
While the first two Transporter films were good, dumb fun, Transporter 3 is critically wounded by what may be one of the worst performances ever committed to film: Rudakova's work as Valentina. Perilously wooden and amazingly shallow, Rudakova provides purely unintentional comedy as she delivers badly written lines in halting fractured English while pouting, preening, and posing her way through the film. This film is built on a seemingly solid foundation of star Statham's abdominal muscles, martial arts action, and adrenaline-fueled stunt driving.
It's a shame, because Statham still has everything you could ask for in an action lead -- guts, grit, and grace under pressure -- and bad guy Mr. Johnson (Prison Break's Robert Knepper) is suitably silken and wicked. Kudos should aslo go to series fight choreographer Cory Yuen, a master of close, intense, superbly-crafted martial-arts action. Still, you can feel that this is a shabby, quickly made sequel. The story makes no sense -- but, then again, these films have always been more about speed and splashy action than plot or logic. Director Olivier Megaton puts all the pieces together, but with Rudakova so stiff and shabby in her portrayal of a shallow, spoiled brat, you literally don't care whether she escapes with her life. The Transporter films have always been guilty pleasures, but the third installment is such a diluted, dull repetition that you'll feel the guilt much, much more than any pleasure.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Frank's moral code of professionalism and honor ... while conducting illegal activity. How does his precision represent a relative decency, compared to the other characters/groups in the movie? Do you think the filmmakers are trying to convey any real messages, or is the point of the movie just to entertain with over-the-top action? Parents of kids learning to drive might also point out the stunts are not to be imitated.
- In theaters: November 26, 2008
- On DVD or streaming: March 10, 2009
- Cast: Jason Statham, Natalya Rudakova, Robert Knepper
- Director: Olivier Megaton
- Studio: Lionsgate
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 100 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sequences of intense action and violence, some sexual content and drug material
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