It’s one of life’s greatest conundrums. Alongside thought provokers such as why is a teaspoon always left in the washing up bowl, how can you lose one sock in every wash, and who on earth actually likes Pirates of the Caribbean 2, there is one mystery that is yet to be solved. Transporter 2: is it intentionally funny? Did the makers genuinely believe that the best way to take a bomb off the underside of a car was to flip it upside down mid-air, and use a crane hook? Did they honestly think a jet-ski vs bus chase was plausible? Or the best way to survive a plane nose-diving into the sea was by leaping towards the tail-end?
The thing is, if they tried to make it tongue-in-cheek, it would fail. It’s not funny enough and such spoof genres have been done to death. Transporter 2 will go down in Cinemafool history as one of the most enjoyable films ever, because it seems to be genuine and yet is utterly, utterly stupid. The news of a third instalment was the source of much excitement, and it is with great pleasure that I can announce it is indeed stupid – perhaps not quite as stupid as two, but there are new conundrums thrown into the mix that make it just as special.
Plot-wise, Jason Statham is Frank Martin, a no-questions Transporter (he drives things places) who can also happily handle a fight against twenty massive blokes. There are some foreign mwuhahaha baddies who have something vaguely to do with being bad to the environment, which instantly makes Transporter 3 contemporary and, like, issues-laden. But a new twist features Frank tagged with an irremovable bracelet, which means if he gets too far away from his beloved Audi (buy one today!) he’ll explode! So Frank has to deal with the cruel beasts who came up with this rather elaborate and, if the plot is considered in any detail, completely unnecessary device, all the while trying to keep his female passenger safe and figure out what the hell is going on.
The fresh conundrum comes in when trying to consider who this film is aimed at. It has all the hallmarks of a big, brash action, with Frank beating people up on wires, driving really fast (who knew tilting your body weight would result in your car going on two wheels!) and lots of big explosions. Transporter 2 had all that, plus a female lead who spent literally all of her time in underwear, aside from the bits when she was naked. Pretty obvious who we’re aiming at there – pre-pubescent boys too dumb to realise the film is nonsense, and people like me who relish the nonsense and have a good old chuckle for 90 minutes. But the third instalment… here we have one female lead who retains her clothing throughout, meanwhile our beloved Frank gets half naked not once, not twice, but three times.
Now, I’m not complaining. Jason Statham can be semi-naked all the time if he so wishes – I would in fact encourage it. The fight scene that involved him taking off various items of clothing, one-by-one, resulted in me actually shouting “take your pants off” at the screen, like a menopausal monster at a hen party. But the main demographic who enjoys such naff action films is not the same demographic you’d imagine lapping up a strip-tease from the butch hero. So “who the hell is Transporter 3 aimed at” could well be the title of a PhD, and if anyone wishes to give me £20k a year I’d gladly go off and re-watch the strip scene over and over and over in order to try and find out.
Anyway, if you smirk at the thought of a car successfully driving off a bridge on to a moving train, then this is the film for you. If you roll your eyes and ask for your money back when someone manages to leap feet first through the passenger window of a moving car, then you shouldn’t watch this. And should also try finding a sense of humour.
So, not exactly a comedy, but still managing to elicit shrieks of laughter, Transporter 3 manages to be both a parody and a straight-player, a gaudy action flick and a piece of homoerotic fantasy worth analysing further. Jason Statham has stumbled into an absolute corker and if you’re the sort of person who’d enjoy this sort of ride, the Transporter3 is the right way to get you there. For sheer enjoyment factor, Transporter 3 gets itself a CF1. Bring on Crank 2, is all I can say.