B-

Transporter 3

B-

Transporter 3

Director: Olivier Megaton
Cast: Gregory Loffredo

The Transporter movies are only as good as the sum of their outrageous action setpieces, and by that standard, the series has offered up plenty of highlights so far: a Paris chase sequence that ends with a BMW diving off a bridge into an open slot on a car transport, a hand-to-hand showdown in the middle of an oil slick, a mid-air dismantling of a bomb attached to a car's undercarriage, and a speeding bus caught by commandeered jet-ski. With Jason Bourne and a rebooted James Bond bringing the action genre back down to earth, Jason Statham's dashing wheelman has stepped into the vacuum and given audiences the shallow, dopey, gadget-heavy, anti-realistic thrills they deserve. In a series elevated by high-flying ridiculousness, Transporter 3 falls a couple of sequences short of the standard, but it does show off Statham's considerable dirt-biking skills. For that, at least, it's kinda rad.

The cheerfully nonsensical plot presents Statham with a human package in the form of Natalya Rudakova, the petulant daughter of a Ukrainian government official. A group of baddies led by Robert Knepper has kidnapped Rudakova in an effort to coerce her father into signing off on a deal benefiting a nefarious corporation. It's up to Statham to drive Rudakova from Marseilles to Odessa by way of Budapest, but there's a catch: Both he and his passenger are controlled by high-tech wrist bracelets that will explode if either one of them strays too far from Statham's Audi.

The Speed-like bracelet gimmick pays off on several occasions, especially the sequence where Statham needs to catch up with his car by furiously pedaling—and popping wheelies on—an undersized bicycle. The mad dash across Europe could stand to be madder, but series writers Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen have presented themselves with an odd problem: With the bad guys keeping Statham and his car under their control, who's left to chase him around? They manage to contrive a couple of sticky situations, which are bridged by some above-average romantic banter between Statham and Rudakova, who plays a vodka-swilling pixie with sexy charm. It's enough to pass the time, but just barely.

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