When you take an action franchise staring Jason Statham, co-written by Luc Besson, choreographed by Corey Yuen, and then give it to a director named Olivier Megaton (seriously... Olivier-freakin-Megaton), you know you're in for something special. Now, I am a fan of this franchise, so to speak. I really liked the first film, anyway. The second film was way too over-the-top in action and too little on story (When your action requires you to use CGI in order to do a car-related stunt, you know something with your movie is screwed up). But I had high hopes for the third installment after seeing the trailers. I wasn't let down.
Frank Martin (Jason Statham) is taking some time off, fishing and relaxing with his old friend, Inspector Tarconi (François Berléand), after turning down a transportation deal he didn't feel suited for. But when the case comes back and falls in his lap once more, he's forced into the job. All he has to do is drive his car, along with sexy passenger Valentina (Natalya Rudakova) to different destination points, where he will get the next set of coordinates and continue until he finally reaches the drop-off point. There's only one catch: both Frank and Valentina have bracelets around their wrists that will explode if they go more than 75 feet from the car.
First let me discuss the new concept of the story: the bracelets. Not too long ago, I reviewed Battle Royale 2
Next I'd like to bring up the actors/characters. Jason Statham is Jason Statham; every fight scene basically has to find a way to get him out of his shirt. And his fighting is rough, which is good. Then there's Natalya Rudakova, who is very hot in this movie. The only disappointment was that the movie gave some good eye candy for the ladies with Statham, but not nearly enough eye candy for the guys. Another brief complaint I do have to go along with the characters of these two actors is that the love story that bubbles up between them was too forced and contrived. It didn't feel natural at all. But anyway, then we have Inspector Tarconi, who was used much better in this film than in the previous. In the last movie, he was mainly used for comedic relief. And while he has some funny lines in this one, as well, he went back to his roots in the first film and actually acted like an Inspector. Finally, the villain was actually villainous. He wasn't over-the-top or goofy. He was actually very malignant.
The story was much darker this time, as well. Actually, the whole movie was much darker than both of the previous films. And, believe it or not, there actually was a story. Granted, the motive behind everything that was going on was a bit odd (and slightly weak), but it was there, nonetheless. There were twists and turns throughout the film (not jaw-dropping or anything, but they were there). And there was actually more story this time around than action.
But there was action, don't get me wrong. And the action was all fun, for the most part. It was a bit choppier in editing, so it was rather fast-paced (think Bourne). I think the first film's action was a bit more creative and fun (oil slick, anyone?), but this film still had some heavy punches. And there was more car-related action this time, as well. Not as over-the-top as the second film (except for maybe the two-wheel driving between the trucks scene), and more grounded in some kind of realm of possibility.
My final notes include a couple plot and/or logistical errors. The first, unless I just missed the explanation, was that how did Frank know they were on the train toward the end of the movie? Without an explanation (and granted, I just might have missed it), that's a pretty big plot hole. Second, and more just on the logistics side of things (SPOILER WARNING):
Why did the bad guy jump off the car at the end if he knew what doing that would bring about? That just didn't make sense to me. Falling off with the car would have been the wiser choice.
All in all, I thought it was a fun movie. It has a decent story and some good action. It felt like it was missing just a little something special, but overall, it did what it set out to do: entertain the brainless masses. And for that, I give it a good scoring.