Director: Camille Delamarre
Cast: Ed Skrein, Ray Stevenson, Loan Chabanol, Lenn Kudrjawizki, Gabriella Wright, Radivoje Bukvic, Anatole Taubman, Tatiana Pajkovic
Runtime: 1 hr 36 mins
Rating: NC-16 (Some Sexual References and Violence)
Released By: Golden Village Pictures
Official Website: http://www.thetransporterrefueled.com
Opening Day: 10 September 2015
Synopsis: The producers of 'Lucy' and the 'Taken' trilogy bring you the next adrenaline-fueled installment of The Transporter series, THE TRANSPORTER REFUELED, starring newcomer Ed Skrein as Frank Martin, the most highly-skilled transporter money can buy. The stakes are greater and technology better, but the same three simple rules apply: never change the deal, no names and never open the package.
No, Jason Statham doesn’t return for this latest instalment of Luc Besson’s ‘Transporter’ franchise, which by virtue of its title, is meant to be a reboot rather than a continuation of the modestly successful trilogy which ran from 2002 to 2008. Instead, it is ‘Game of Thrones’ alum Ed Skrein who steps into the titular role of Frank Martin, a driver-for-hire with strict rules against questions asked, names and deal changes and the promise of delivering any package on time. As Statham also showed, Frank doesn’t simply rely on his excellent driving skills to play delivery man; he also has a nasty set of martial arts skills to boot, which come in handy considering just how often he tends to run into bad company.
In ‘Refuelled’, Frank has been contracted by a seductive blond-wigged femme fatale named Anna (Loan Chabanol) to pick up a 140 kg cargo in front of a bank. The cargo turns out to be two identically dressed, blond-wigged ladies (Gabriella Wright and Wenxia Yu), whom a prologue informs us were enslaved by Russian crime lord Karasov’s (Radivoje Bukvic) to work as prostitutes fifteen years ago. Realising that he has been hired to be their getaway driver in a revenge plot against the men who have been exploiting them for years, Frank refuses; and so, to compel him, Anna has also had a fourth compatriot (Tatiana Pajkovic) kidnap his former British spy dad (Ray Stevenson).
Shortly after a hair-raising escape from the police along the streets of Monte Carlo, Anna blackmails both Frank Sr and Frank Jr to help them out again in yet another heist in a nightclub and then on board a plane about to take off (which smacks too much of ‘Taken 3’). It doesn’t take a genius to guess Anna’s ruse or that both father and son as well as the girls will find themselves up against Karasov, who happens to have a long time grudge against Frank Jr. Besson’s EuropaCorp B-grade action movies have never been high on plot, or character for that matter, and this bare-bones script co-written by Besson is pretty much a straight road without any twists or turns. That isn’t a bad thing in and of itself – certainly, the earlier ‘Transporter’ films didn’t get by with narrative zing too.
Alas, what made its predecessors stand out is sadly missing in this one. Taking over the reins from ‘Taken 3’ director Olivier Megaton is Camille Delamarre, a former editor from the EuropaCorp stable who made his directorial debut on another Besson scripted picture ‘Brick Mansions’, and Delamarre fares even worse than Megaton does in preserving the original’s deliriously fun Hong Kong action choreography first established by Corey Yuen. Like Megaton, Delamarre is prone to ‘helicopter’ shots and quick-cut editing, but lacks the former’s derring-do when it comes to staging vehicular crashes that are a hallmark of the franchise. In fact, the action scenes reek of familiarity, borrowed not only from previous ‘Transporter’ entries but also of the ‘Taken’ series.
The one sequence that does stand out is a bit of Jackie Chan which Frank pulls by using an array of bank vault drawers to dispatch his pursuers, but that alone isn’t enough to save the rest of the movie from plain tedium. That also has to do with the fact that Skrein is a poor substitute for Statham, who shares the latter’s Cockney accent but is lacking in everything else. Statham wasn’t yet the star he was today, but he brought a veritable blend of self-awareness, raw charisma and impressive moves to make Frank an engagingly mysterious character. Skein doesn’t possess any of these facets, and his dead seriousness makes for a relentlessly monotonous delivery that is flat out boring – mind you, that is even with the slinky babes that Delamarre has surrounded him with.
Unlike what its title suggests, this entry is pretty much running on fumes, missing what made the earlier movies acceptably diverting low-rent action thrillers. Audi might be happy with the exposure that they are getting, but not even the most undemanding viewer will find much excitement in the forgettable setpieces and an utterly inconsequential climax. And oh boy, how we miss Statham, who has since moved on to better stuff with ‘Spy’ and ‘Fast and Furious 7’ and without which the ‘Transporter’ franchise is as good as dead.
(Sorely missing Jason Statham’s presence, this reboot of the low-rent ‘Transporter’ franchise from Luc Besson’s B-grade action thriller factory EuropaCorp is as good as Eurotrash)
Review by Gabriel Chong