Transporter: Refueled Review
RUNNING ON EMPTY
Cars, action, and adrenaline kicks were the staple hypes of the Transporter movies. Consisting of three featured installments, this series saw the rise of actor Jason Statham (playing franchise’s main character, Frank Martin) and establishing him as a solid action hero star. Whether you liked them or not, the Transporter movies were enjoyable to watch, shifting into high gear with fun (and outrageous) stunts and sleek fighting choreography that played to Statham’s advantages. After a failed attempt to launch a Transporter television series, the Frank Martin is back on the big screen with a new leading actor in the movie Transporter: Refueled. Does this movie revamp the series or does its clunk mechanics stall the film’s engine?
In 1995, a ruthless criminal named Arkady Karasov (Radivoje Bukvic) has taken over crime in the French Riviera, amassing a fortune of by exploiting women. Flash forwarding 15 years into the future, Anna (Loan Chabanol) is about to seek her vengeance against Arkady, working with three of his former prostitutes to secretly steal his fortune through a series of careful targeted robberies. Looking for a lethal and specialist driver for the mission, Anna hires Frank Martin Jr. (Ed Skrein) for their job, agreeing to his “client job rules” in order to keep his involvement clean. Unfortunately, Frank Jr.’s involvement becomes very involved as Anna changes the agreement terms by kidnapping his father, Frank Martin Sr. (Ray Stevenson), a former British spy, and holds him hostage to make Frank Jr. comply. Whether he likes it or not, Frank Jr. is along for the ride, participating Anna’s plan as he and the girls perform their revenge heists against Arkady’s fortune and empire.
THE GOOD / THE BAD
I actually am a fan of the first two Transporter movies (own both of them and loved watching them). Yes, it’s over the top action, but its good fun for an action movie, serving up a galore of sweet car chases, fisticuffs showdowns, and strong presence from actor Jason Statham, the series’ leading man. I still haven’t seeing Transporter 3 (because I heard it wasn’t as great as the first two) and I actually didn’t know there was a television series until recently (Anyone seeing it? I haven’t). Thus, with the lower quality of these two installments, it appeared that the allure of the franchise had all but gone out. Transporter: Refueled, the fourth movie in the series, tries to reenergize viewers and continue the cinematic adventure Frank Martin. Unfortunately, Frank’s (or now Frank Jr.’s) fourth feature is a humdrum endeavor with mediocre results and a action clichéd overtone.
Refueled is directed by Camille Delamarre, a film editor for such films like Transporter 3, Taken 2, and Lockout and as directed the movie Brick Mansion. The movie’s narrative is bland, riddled with cheesy dialogue and half-baked villain (more on than later). There’s some side-banter between Frank and his father, which does offer some good chemistry between the two actors, but that’s pretty much it. Delamarre even alludes to Frank Jr.’s past, mention his involvement with Karasov, but that’s dropped quickly and is vaguely mentioned. The previous Transporter entries, while not Oscar-worthy, were fun romp of fast paced thrills of action-packed excitement. Refueled tries to emulate that, but fails hits its intended mark. I kind felt bored with movie, feeling like the feature was pulling from other similar movies that had come before. There’s a handful of action stunts and choreography that are noteworthy, but those are few and far between. This result is a cobbled up endeavor that’s makes Refueled tasteless and clichéd.
With Statham declining to reprise his role (for some good reasons), Transporter: Refueled finds its new lead in actor Ed Skrein for the character of Frank Martin Jr. Skrein, who many might recognize as Game of Thrones character Daario Naharis (Season 3) and from the upcoming Marvel movie Deadpool, does the part well, continuing with character’s persona of being calm, cool, and collective as well as being a physical force through various fighting scenarios. Yet, despite Skrein’s attempts to make his own mark on the franchise, it’s very hard to see the character step out from behind Statham’s portrayal. If this was a different film series or if he started the Transporter series from the beginning, Skrein could’ve had a better reception for this role. As it stands, Skrein, talented as he is, comes off as a “so-so” knock-off role in this movie that’s overshadowed by Statham’s Frank Martin Jr.
Perhaps the best character in the movie comes from actor Ray Stevenson, who plays Frank’s father, Frank Sr. Stevenson, who’s played roles in HBO’s Rome, Punisher: War Zone, and both Thor movies, seems to relish his character’s role and brings quality of the both light comedic levity and dramatic poise. It’s not a high-power theatrical role, but Stevenson gets the job done and easily passes Ed Skrein as the best character in Transporter: Refueled (which all things consider is pretty sad). The rest of the supporting cast is little better than simply clichéd stock characters in an action movie. Actress Loan Chabanol plays Anna and, while she’s ease on the eyes, her character is flat and doesn’t really make a lasting impression. She has moments with Skrein’s character, but that’s all that they are…moments. The other three girls, who partake in Anna’s mission to takedown Karasov, are pretty, but flat and generic and are mostly in the background. I honestly can’t tell you what their character’s names are (unless I look them up on IMDB). Refueled’s central bad guy is probably the worst part of the movie as actor Radivoje Bukvic’s Arkady Karasov hams his paper-thin role with bland efforts. Like Anna, Karasov doesn’t make a lasting impression for viewers to care about. The same goes for Karasov’s associates (played by Yuri Kolokolnikov and Lenn Kudrjawizki), once lackeys working underneath him that are now kingpins in their own right, who end up being footnote’s on Refueled narrative.
Transporter: Refueled was meant to reengage moviegoers into Frank Martin’s world of car chases, stylish fight showdowns, and other action nuances. However, the movie is nothing more than a mindless mishap of a feature that is bland and unnecessary. I really didn’t have high expectations for this movie, but still, the movie could’ve been a whole lot better. Fans of the previous Transporters (and who don’t mind the changing-of-the-guard in its main lead) might see something in this reboot worth checking out, but, speaking for mostly everyone, this fourth chapter might not have the high octane thrills for the average viewer to sit through. Could this be the last time we see Frank Martin Jr.? It’s a possibly. With a better overall movie (in almost every aspect) or even with Statham’s return, a fifth installment could prove to be good. However, this all just idle speculation. As it stands, the future looks bleak for the Transporter franchise.