Reboots on reboots on reboots. That’s the way Hollywood, or in the case of “The Transporter Refueled,” Paris works in how to handle audience satisfaction. Filmmakers avoid the risk of an original idea failing at the box office, instead choosing to re-create older, successful movies without using the term “remake.” In the beginning, “The Transporter Refueled” wasn’t a reboot; it was a sequel, opting to bring back Jason Statham in the iconic role of Frank Martin, but when Statham declined returning to the role, the studio decided to re-cast the role to “Game of Thrones” star Ed Skrein. Let’s just go ahead and consider that strikes one, two and three against “The Transporter Refueled,” because if they couldn’t get “Transporter 3” right even with Statham, how are they going to do it without him?
Perhaps my rude assumptions make me a bad critic, but I found myself to be correct, to a much lesser extent than I expected.
“The Transporter Refueled” picks up in the series as transporter Frank Martin must now protect four former prostitutes from the leader of their deadly human trafficking ring, or else his father will be killed. Does this plot sound thin? Because it is, and despite a nice twist or two, it does nothing in the way of creating anything new for the audience to have fun with. *yawn*
Skrein is okay as Martin, but not much more. He lacks the charm and wit that Statham had, not to mention the sheer brute force that made Martin such an indomitable force in the original films. Skrein is simply too skinny and bratty to pull off a role that’s meant to be so physically endearing and intimidating. Now, it’s not like Martin is some irreplaceable character that couldn’t have been re-cast, but with Skrein, it seems that, especially with the film being a reboot, that they could’ve expanded the universe to include him as a new character, at least to draw as much attention as possible away from the fact that he pales in comparison to Statham.
Despite Skrein, two performances in the film are good, which might not mean much considering the fact that the cast of “The Transporter Refueled” is quite large, but Ray Stevenson and Loan Chabanol do fill out their thin characters with enough magnetism to make them standouts. Sure, their performances aren’t great in the realm of other, better movies, as Stevenson has already proven himself capable of doing, and perhaps, in the future Chabanol can do so as well because I see a bright future for this Monica Belucci-esque actress. All she needs is the right push in the right film.
But make no mistake, the screenplay of “The Transporter Refueled” couldn’t be more cliché if it tried, as it pulls off every trick in the EurpoaCorp book of mediocre action films. Sure, it’s not as egregious as “Taken 3” or “Brick Mansions,” but despite it’s gorgeous French Riviera setting, the film can’t seem to do much of anything rather than relying on this beauty and looking as glossy as possible. Mix this with the sometimes awful dialogue (someone literally exclaims “You jerk!” at one point in the film as an insult), and what you have turns out in the middle of the pack for the already lowered standards of a Luc Besson action film.
Director Camille Delamarre gives the film a pretty color palette, but doesn’t do much in the way of directing anything else other than a barrage of half second shots gathered into something that’s supposed to be considered coherent. If the film hadn’t been so choppily edited, “The Transporter Refueled” would’ve been more acceptable dumb fun like I found “Hitman: Agent 47” to be. For a film that needs to rely on being attractive over a lacking narrative drive, it achieves the cinematic equivalent of a good Instagram filter over a bad selfie.
I do have one weakness that “The Transporter Refueled” plays into greatly that really softens my feelings on the film: fabulous femme fatales. I live to see women kicking ass and taking names in film, and to see them do it in (manageably realistic looking) high fashion clothing, really hits me at my core, even in a movie as poorly constructed as this one.
I guess we can forgive “The Transporter Refueled” for all of the plot holes the film has, but past that, for an action film of this caliber to not even lean on its setting kind of puts the last bullet in the head of hope for this series. Unless Statham comes back, which I highly doubt is possible at this point, I’m going to have to call it quits for the “Transporter” series. I hope for the best for Chabanol, and hope that Skrein can grow out of his unlikable demeanor, but for this film? Despite the fabulous females of the film, let’s not refuel this again, let it run out of gas this time around.
Directed by: Camille Delamarre
Starring: Ed Skrein, Ray Stevenson, Loan Chabanol, Gabriella Wright, Tatiana Pajkovic, Wenxia Yu, Rasha Bukvic, Lenn Kudrjawizki, Anatole Taubman, Noémie Lenoir.
Runtime: 96 minutes
Rating: PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, sexual material, some language, a drug reference and thematic elements.
Also available in IMAX.
EuropaCorp presents, a coproduction EuropaCorp – TF1 Films Production – Fundamental Films – Belga Films, with the participation of Canal+, OCS, TF1 and TMC, “The Transporter Refueled”