It’s preposterous, it’s over the top and it’s pure entertainment – transporting you for a couple of hours to the cheeky, attention-deficit-disordered (and very boys-only) world of French filmmaker Luc Besson. Back as the well-dressed and muscle-bound courier is Jason Statham – who seems to crank out versions of himself with great regularity – usually running into banks or danger. In this, he is of course (if you know your Transporter history) Frank Martin, the man who delivers anything, anywhere – no questions asked.
In the third iteration of the franchise – the package is Valentina (Natalya Rudakova) the long-limbed and recently kidnapped daughter of a Ukrainian politician who must sign documents allowing his country to import toxic industrial waste if he wants to see Valentina returned safely. There’s a mastermind of sorts behind the plan in the form of Johnson (Robert Knepper) but its best not to sniff the plot too closely or you’ll realise it’s stinkier than ripe Camembert. In any case it’s largely irrelevant and merely a device to put Statham in a beast of an Audi, with a super-model beside him and truck loads of swarthy (but very well-dressed) nasties chasing him in flashy – but oh so inferior – fast cars.
Regularly on his trip from France to Ukraine – and for no other reason than its been at least ten minutes since the last fight sequence – Frank pulls over and dishes out a slow-motion hiding to his foe, elegantly managing to disrobe in the process so we can check out his six-pack and pecs. He grunts his way through some classic Luc Besson writing – all dead-pan one liners – and this plus the combination of shirtless bod, alpha-male success on the martial arts front, and honourable stoicism is enough to turn the dour Valentina into a swoon. As the film progresses she is transformed from interesting and mysterious woman of substance to limp dolly-bird in need of saving by our lantern-jawed hero.
Also returning for a third time is the wonderful Francois Berleand as Tarconi – the very Gallic and fatherly French policeman – who exists as Frank’s connection to the outside world and who turns up just too late to help Frank single-handedly demolish a train here or a small army of thugs there. The car stunts – clearly computer generated – are beyond belief, but like the rest of the film, so absurd that you have no choice but to smile for their complete brazenness.