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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Transporter 3 (Blu-ray)
Transporter 3 (Blu-ray)
Lionsgate Home Entertainment // PG-13 // March 10, 2009 // Region A
List Price: $39.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Michael Zupan | posted March 1, 2009 | E-mail the Author
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Now that's more like it! You know, I absolutely loved The Transporter. It may not have been smart or even believable for that matter, but it was downright entertaining and action packed! Then The Transporter 2 was released, and it took every fiber of my being to not walk out of it. I'm willing to venture outside of reality for a movie, but that film was almost reminiscent of watching an episode of The Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, what with all the obvious wire and pulley stunts. Thankfully, The Transporter franchise returns to its roots in the third installment.

A man we only come to know as Johnson is trying to 'negotiate' a deal with the head of the Ukrainian EPA, Minister Leonid Vasilev. Not that Mr. Vasilev would want to cooperate under normal conditions, but as an added precaution, Johnson has kidnapped his beloved daughter Valentina.

Johnson isn't dumb however, so he makes it a point to keep Valentina as far away from him as possible. Vasilev has plenty of power at his dispersal and could easily hunt Valentina down, that is unless she's under the watchful eye of an ever moving transporter.

Frank Martin is trying his best to enjoy a simple life, but his reputation seems to outweigh his desire for retirement. When the first transporter Johnson hired fails to do his job properly, Johnson eyes Frank for the job. Not willing to step out of retirement for the likes of some goon, Frank refuses to do Johnson's bidding, but not before he's told that Johnson never takes no for an answer.

Johnson lives up to his reputation, putting Frank in a bit of a predicament that involves an explosive handcuff that's been programmed to detonate once it is 75 feet away from Frank's car. As an added precaution, one is put on Valentina as well. If Frank has any hope of getting the cuffs removed at all, he'll have to deliver the girl to wherever the GPS in his car is programmed to go.

It's a straightforward plot, but I guess we couldn't expect much else from a Transporter film, could we?

Yes, there are plenty of moments in The Transporter 3 that don't make any sense, and there are enough plot holes that could put a slice of Swiss cheese to shame. The acting isn't terrific, the script isn't smart or witty, the pacing is a bit off at times, but one thing's for sure... there's a whole lot of ass bein' kicked!

Nobody goes to a Transporter film expecting any of the finer aspects of a story. No, it's the brutal hand-to-hand combat, insane car chase sequences and explosions that draw people to each installment of Jason Statham's house of pain!

As I said before, my main concern going into The Transporter 3 was just how convenient the action was going to be. If you need an example of what I mean by 'convenient' action sequences that make you want to roll your eyes, or perhaps even induce vomiting, all one has to do is remember a scene in The Transporter 2 where Frank hurls his car through the air, gets it to spin upside down at just the right moment so a crane can pick off the bomb. I can suspend belief for a lot of things when it comes to watching a movie, but that's just insane, and lazy writing to boot!

Fortunately, The Transporter 3 brings back the staples that made the original as awesome as it was. Frank finds himself in tight quarters while being surrounded through numerous thugs on a few occasions, and instead of the film resorting to unbelievable antics, Frank once again resorts to using any and everything around him to whoop some butt. It's a simple method for a fight sequence, but sometimes simple gets the job done, right? Right. Why go above and beyond by hooking the actors up on a cable? What credibility is a movie going to have, even a Transporter film, if it ends up looking like an action show meant for five year olds? It was the creative, yet realistic combat of the first film that made it work! New director to the franchise, Olivier Megaton, thankfully understood this!

The car chase sequences are also brought back down to a more believable level, at least for the most part. There's a sequence where Frank rides his vehicle on two wheels much longer than even the mind of an infant can tolerate, and there are some other moments that just seem way too farfetched for their own good. For the most part however, as fantastical as some of the moments in this film may seem to be, they never come anywhere near the shame that was on display in the second film.

Although the action, the absolute main reason for anyone to see this film, is unbelievably entertaining and back to a more realistic level, there is a story element in play that I just couldn't connect with, no matter how hard I tried.

Frank has always been strict on making sure he followed his rules as a transporter, but he breaks them due to the strenuous circumstances he's forced into this time around. This leads to his package, Valentina, being his love interest. That's a decent idea I suppose, but Frank and Valentina are completely different in almost every imaginable way. I just couldn't buy it.

There may be a lot of things wrong with the third installment of The Transporter franchise, but you know what? It works well enough. If you ask me, this film has completely reinforced the notion of hope, that a Transporter film can get back to the grassroots that made it so much of a blast to begin with. The action is here in all the ways we expect it to be and that's all that really matters in the end, isn't it? The Transporter 3 is meant to be popcorn flick action at some of its best, and when it comes to mindless action, this film has it down to a T.

I had a blast while I watched this movie, despite it being a dumb excuse for action, action, and more action. It might be worth noting however, that an hour after I watched the movie, there was nothing that really stuck with me. It didn't take long for me to feel indifferent to this movie after the fact.


Video

The AVC encoded 1080p image is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. In short, it looks very impressive!

The tone of the film is conveyed by having high saturation in lighter areas, so the contrast is intentionally going to be off. The effect works very well though, as the blacks remain as deep as they were intended, keeping the lighter areas of the screen at any given time bright, without inducing any unwanted blooming.

The skin tones are very natural looking throughout the course of the film, and when allowed (during explosions, certain scenery), the color saturation leaps off the screen.

The film has a grainy look to it that's intentional, so that the film can appear to be a bit darker and grittier than the films before it. This doesn't seem to have any effect on detail throughout the film overall. Detail in faces and clothing for example, is superb. Unfortunately, the grain does tend to cause some macro-blocking in areas that are of similar color. It's not going to be something you notice just by watching the film in motion mind you, and the blocking isn't large and ugly, but if you pause the movie to look for it in the appropriate areas you would expect, you're going to see a minor case of this throughout.

All in all, it's an impressive looking transfer despite the minor macro-blocking issue. It's too bad this couldn't have been hampered though, because this could have been a great transfer otherwise.


Audio

Going from the 5.1 track that's available on DVD to this, is going to be a pleasantry for all of you out there! The Transporter 3 is presented in a 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track that's quite impressive.

The directional field that's used through all seven channels really surrounds you with the action. The directionality is always at play during the major fight or action sequences. There are even times when the surround channels are used for ambience, to really make you feel like you're there.

The dynamic range is quite impressive, too. There's a certain scene where Frank is at home, sitting quietly in front of a TV. He gets up to investigate a noise, and BOOM! A car crashes through his living room! It caught me completely off guard, and what was most surprising, was just how realistic it sounded. It was loud, it sounded full, and I could hear it all around me. It didn't get distorted from the sudden jump in volume, and remained clear.

This 7.1 track is a fine one, and the audio experience really drives the action packed effect of this movie home. There's a great directional field throughout the course of the film, dialogue is crisp and clear, and the louder scenes never have an issue of sounding tinny.


Extras

Audio Commentary with Director Olivier Megaton - There's a lot of information on this commentary, everything from filming, to behind the scenes, and what it was like to work with everyone. Unfortunately, Olivier has a very thick accent, speaks mostly in monotone, and is almost impossible to understand. Listening to this was like trying to listen to someone speaking a foreign language, and made this an unbearable experience for me. Perhaps some of you will have a higher tolerance for trying to decipher things through a heavy accent, but it completely ruined the experience for me.

Special Delivery: Transporters in the Real World - This doesn't really talk about transporters like the character Jason Statham plays in the movie, but this is a fairly interesting featurette none-the-less. We're given a history of what a transporter really is, is anyone that transports information or people while also having a background of special operations on a global level. The history we're told about goes all the way back to George Washington.

Making-Of Transporter 3 - This is about 16 minutes in length, but it's not really a very in-depth making-of featurette. You'll spend most of the time watching behind the scenes vs finished product comparisons, but there are some interviews with cast members as well.

Storyboard Compare - This is only about 3 minutes, and most of the time is spent looking at a series of storyboards that are pieced together as a scene for the film. There's nothing really in the 'comparing' department going on as the title of this featurette suggests though.

Visual Effects - Another short featurette at only 2 and a half minutes, there's nothing that's earth shattering being talked about here. There's not enough time for this to really delve into some of the intricacies behind putting effects in a film.

The Sets - At 2 minutes long, this is basically the Director telling us about what inspired him to make certain sets look the way they do in the film. Again though, the heavy accent that I could barely understand turned me right off.

Also included is a MOLOG feature. It utilizes BD-Live in a fairly interesting way, as you can insert animated shapes, text, audio, or other graphics right into the film as a 'blog' so other users on BD-Live can see them. I love how innovate films like Wanted and The Transporter 3 want to be with their Blu-ray releases, but when I sit down to watch a movie, I want to watch the movie. I'm not sure this sort of thing is ever really going to ever catch on.

All in all, I found most, if not all of the featurettes, to be fairly disappointing. They were short, light on information, and the commentary that could have provided the insight I was searching for, I couldn't even understand.


Overall

The Transporter 3 is a breath of fresh air after having to endure through the second installment in the series. The action is far more grounded, and things don't look like they're getting pulled around by wires. Having a new director step in to take the reins was a great move, and I'm actually looking forward to another mindless action romp in the future.

As fun as the ride itself was though, I can't omit from my review the glaring issues this film has. The idea of Frank and a girl being on the run was basically what we had in the first movie. It didn't really feel fresh, ya' know? The script wasn't smart, the acting wasn't great, and there's really nothing else you can say about the thought that actually went into the story. It just wasn't working. It was quite clear that most of the work was focused on the action/fighting sequences themselves, and although that can make for an entertaining movie, it doesn't necessarily make for a good one. Fortunately though, the action was good enough to make this worth the time.

The audio and visual presentations are pretty darn good for this release, but the extras are all kind of lame, unfortunately. If you're a fan of fun action flicks that require no thought at all, The Transporter 3 is a movie that I can rent it instead. At this point in the series, there need to be some fresh ideas in the script for me to give this a serious recommendation, and unfortunately, there wasn't a single ounce of fresh in it. Great popcorn action this may be, but a great movie, it is not.
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