Frank Martin (Ed Skrein) is a package delivery man. He delivers the kinds of packages that you don’t want sent via Fed Ex or UPS. He doesn’t want to know the name of his client, he doesn’t want to know what he’s delivering and the deal isn’t allowed to change once it’s agreed upon or Frank walks away. He’s a skilled and daring driver behind the wheel of his tricked out Audi S8 and he’s also handy with his fists in the event there is trouble along his delivery route. Frank’s father, Frank Sr. (Ray Stevenson), is recently retired from his secret government job and visits his son in the South of France. Frank gets a call from a potential client about a job and agrees to meet her the next day. There he meets Anna (Loan Chabanol) who hires him to deliver two packages he’s to pick up at 5 pm in front of a bank. When he arrives, he discovers the two packages are two friends of Anna’s and all three are dressed in identical black dresses and blond wigs. Frank dislikes the way this job is going and tells them all to get out but he’s shown a smart phone with live video of his father chained up in a warehouse. Anna gives him no choice but to take them where they want to go. He must also outrun a squad of police cars and motorcycles as his car parked in front of the bank with three identical looking women has attracted the authorities’ attention. Successfully evading the police and switching cars, Frank takes the women to the warehouse and finds his father unharmed. Frank is told he must help Anna and her friends who are all prostitutes working for Arkady Karasov (Radivoje Bukvic) and his gang of Russian mobsters. Anna wants to destroy Karasov’s organization and free her friends and herself from their lives as high end escorts. To ensure his assistance, Frank Sr. has been given a slow-acting poison. If Frank helps them, Anna will give his father the antidote. Frank has no choice but to join their plot if he wants to save his father.
There isn’t much I can say about “The Transporter Refueled” as it didn’t make much of an impression on me. The movie is technically well done with some very intricate action scenes in tight places that make imaginative use of the environment. There is also some beautiful scenery as much of the film takes place in Monaco. If cars are your thing the Audi S8 driven by the Transporter is a lovely luxury sedan that is tricked out with various high-tech gadgets and effective counter measures. And of course, the film is populated with many beautiful and often scantily clad women. The movie is packed with things that should have grabbed my attention and kept me riveted from beginning to end yet it didn’t. As the story progressed, I felt more and more uncomfortable with the direction of the characters and their choices. “The Transporter Refueled” left me feeling like I needed to take a shower afterward.
While the movie gives its female characters plenty of intelligence and drive to pull off their mission without Frank’s help, they still need him to provide the muscle to make their escape plan a reality. In some sense, Frank is cast in the more stereotypical sexual role as the protector while the women are portrayed as the brains of the operation. The movie slips back into a more conventional male/female dynamic as the story goes along. That dynamic is part of my biggest issue with the movie. At one point, Anna and Frank wind up in bed together. It’s the film’s inappropriate romantic moment and it made my skin crawl. This woman that was sold to her pimp by her mother at the age of 12 and has been subjected to who knows what kind of abuse is now in bed with a man she met 24 hours earlier. This isn’t slut shaming, it is questioning the script and why a scene like that was included when the story makes it clear these women are very intelligent and have lived a life in hell through no fault of their own. It seems unlikely any woman who had lived Anna’s life would quickly fall into bed with a man she is forcing to help her. Perhaps I’m applying my own moral code to the characters in the film but it seems kind of gross to have the character have sex as a way of saying “thank you” to the man she is essential extorting into helping her. Maybe we are to think her life taught her this as the only way of expressing her appreciation for Frank’s help. It still strikes me as borderline abusive and a kind of sexual expression I could have done without. I’m no prude and the scene is very brief but I still left the theatre feeling like I’d seen something particularly filthy.
Otherwise, “The Transporter Refueled” is pretty average and largely inoffensive. The plot seems overly complicated if you give it a moment’s thought. Why these super intelligent call girls don’t just hire someone to kill their Russian pimps using the money they steal from their first incredibly complex and intricate robbery instead of following through with the rest of their equally byzantine plans escapes me (and apparently the writers of the script as well). It also doesn’t make much sense why the minivans and small cars employed by the Monaco police and airport security are able to keep up with Frank’s supercharged car. He should be able to leave them in the dust without creating all the mayhem to evade capture shown in the film. If I was Audi, I’d think twice about giving the filmmakers any more cars for the proposed next two films in this new trilogy.
The playful sniping and apparent rivalry between Frank Sr. and Jr. is a rare high point for the film. Ed Skrein and Ray Stevenson look nothing alike but still have a nice father-and-son chemistry. I hope this may get a bit more screen time in the next film as it is probably the best aspect of the story. I feel certain at some point the elder Martin will be sacrificed to save the younger as a high emotional point to give the Transporter a revenge angle to finish off the main villain. It seems like the most movie cliché thing to do so I’m certain it will happen, probably in the third film.
“The Transporter Refueled” is rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, sexual material, some language, a drug reference and thematic elements. There are numerous fights, some including weapons of various types, and one major shootout. There isn’t much blood from any of these fights and no gore. One character is shown being shot in the chest several times and a couple of other characters are shown being shot in the head but again there is very little blood and no gore. We also see the aftermath of a hotel room fire with three charred bodies. The previously mentioned sex scene is brief and shows a woman in her underwear. We also see a suggested threesome with no nudity. A reference is made to a woman dying of a heroin overdose. Foul language is widely scattered.
While fans of the original series of “Transporter” movies may find much to enjoy in this reboot, I found it more of the same with new faces. It also troubled me seeing how sex is such a commodity and those that have been used so violently are portrayed as being willing to trade it for services rendered. Perhaps my opinion of the film is colored by this feeling; however, I don’t think my view of the movie would have been much different if that scene didn’t exist.