By Nico Beland
Movie Review: F+ (1 ½ stars)
Wow, and I thought rebooting the Fantastic Four was a pointless idea; this is beyond desperate and confusing at the same time. English rapper, Ed Skrein (Game of Thrones) takes on the iconic role that made Jason Statham the action star he is today in the fourth installment of The Transporter franchise, The Transporter: Refueled, not to mention the first Transporter movie released since 2008’s Transporter 3, which was a pretty weak sequel to an enjoyably silly franchise.
So what did they do here? Make it even weaker, for example replacing Jason Statham with Skrein, that’s strike 1, the film rehashing elements from other Transporter movies, specifically Transporter 2, that’s strike 2, and the film tries too hard to find a midpoint between a sequel and a reboot, and ultimately fails at both, that’s strike 3. This pointless movie was made pretty much just to do what they did for Jason Statham with Ed Skrein.
The first Transporter is a fun movie, undeniably flawed but it’s an entertaining movie that’s over the top, and full of thrills and suave. Jason Statham’s performance isn’t Oscar worthy but he’s a likable action star and he sure knows how to kick some ass, so naturally the film was a hit so producer Luc Besson (The Fifth Element, The Messenger: Story of Joan of Arc, Taken trilogy) started getting ideas for its sequel, Transporter 2.
Some of the fun and action wasn’t quite as fresh the second time around with Transporter 2, but the plot was well put together and gripping and it’s usually the Transporter movie plot that most people remember, and of course it got plenty of Jason Statham cool that helped keep it afloat, so again, big hit, third movie was on the way.
Transporter 3 released in 2008 was when the franchise really started to lose its action packed fun, the action was generic, the characters lacked development, and overall you just don’t care for anything and anyone that happened throughout the movie, so it was a dud, like most third installments.
So about seven years later, Besson returned with a fourth installment or a reboot or something known as The Transporter: Refueled, in the director’s chair is Camille Delamarre (Brick Mansions) and Ed Skrein in Jason Statham’s place as Frank Martin AKA the Transporter, and boy does it fail hard.
Frank Martin, a former special-ops mercenary is now living a less perilous and more peaceful life, so he thinks. Transporting classified packages for questionable people. His father (Ray Stevenson-Punisher: War Zone, Thor, Divergent) visits him in the south of France and their father-son bonding takes a turn for the worse when Frank is called in by a cunning femme-fatale, Anna (Loan Chabanol-Fading Gigolo, Third Person) and her three seductive sidekicks to put together the bank heist of the century.
Frank must use his covert expertise and fast car and fast driving knowledge to outrun a sinister Russian kingpin or thrust into a game of chess with a team of beautiful women out for revenge.
Overall, The Transporter: Refueled is thoroughly pointless and questionable in its existence, the film needs to pick one, is it going to be a sequel or is it going to be a reboot? Because it fails at being both, the film tries too hard to do fan service from better installments of the series while doing things that are completely different.
Remember the deadly disease that was spreading in the second movie? Yeah, they do that again here with Frank’s father and people who have seen the second movie can probably guess what was really put into his body. And of course the traditional parking garage gang fight from Transporter 2 returns in this, only here it’s incredibly awkward due to Jason Statham not being the one fighting and this Transporter cliché really overstayed its welcome, it’s just constant rehashing of the first two movies and a climax that consists entirely of typical action movie clichés, and ultimately becomes a watered down, half ass hybrid clone of the first two movies but without Statham.
Even on its own, The Transporter: Refueled fails as an action movie, aside from a few fun action sequences and an awesome chase on an airplane runway, the action is very standard and it’s all stuff we’ve seen in the other three films, that’s usually the time to look at your watch and see how much longer you have in the theater.
And let’s not forget, Ed Skrein’s performance as the Transporter, prior to watching this I looked back at the other three Transporter movies with Jason Statham and Skrein doesn’t even come close to matching Jason Statham. He’s clearly trying to mimic exactly what Jason Statham did in the other three movies and it comes off as awkward, this guy isn’t the Transporter, it’s a guy pretending to be the Transporter, Statham is the one true Transporter and this is a failed attempt at recreating it.
It isn’t as bad as Fantastic Four or Hitman: Agent 47 but it’s still a very lousy installment of the once great Transporter franchise. If you want a better sequel/reboot experience, stream Mad Max: Fury Road instead, it’s a much better option as a sequel or reboot and it works on its own as a film, this clearly doesn’t.