This fourth entry in the Jason Statham led franchise gets a complete face lift and customisation, which is simultaneously a good and bad thing. It’s mildly entertaining yet at times rather frustrating because Refuelled comes so close to being more than just an average action film. Starting with the bad seems right, as there are only a few red lights but they certainly stall. This review is going to contain many car puns, it's inevitable.
Editor Julien Rey steps into Olivier Megaton (Taken 3) territory, in which frantic cuts and shaky cam take front seat. I have nothing wrong with fast cutting and shaky cam, when people say they can't see what's going on that's not the issue with me, I can make out clearly the actions no matter how vapid they may be but the issue stems from the fact that is it really necessary? In Taken 3, there is a moment that sees Liam Neeson leap over a fence. Simple, that can be captured in one or two shots. Instead, Megaton felt it necessary to quick cut that action with at eight different cuts. That's overkill, and there's no effect or need. That's the case with The Transporter Refuelled, sometimes there are shots of cars crashing and actors running cut together in the most convoluted style.
Another problem with this fourth film is the uneven acting, some actors are terrific, then some underperform, but I have to admit that the dialogue really doesn't help them. During the car chases, there are moments when dialogue is shouted out but you never know who is speaking as the camera is either focusing on something else entirely or it's flashing right before your eyes. Gabriella Wright and Tatiana Pajkovic, both stunning women, unfortunately over-egg it at times, they don't hold up so well during the action either, but at least they bring a decent amount of wit to their roles. Radha Bukvic gives a good performance but as the bad guy he never feels like a threat, nor is there a menacing aura surrounding him. The only memorable bad guys from the franchise are from the second film, Kate Nauta and Alessandro Gassman were genuinely evil yet balanced that with humour.
With the bad out the way, there is still a lot to praise here. Ed Skrein is very, very cool, not once does his performance turn hammy or cheesy, he's a convincing action star and I think he manages to make the movie his own without trying to imitate Statham. Skrein is playing his own version of Frank Martin and he's done a great job.
The banter between him and Ray Stevenson is what drives the majority of the film, the dynamic feels realistic and once again, it's believable. Loan Chabanol who plays Anna, a young women thirst for revenge, and she is suitably feisty and cunning, Chabanol is clearly having fun playing the role and I'd like to see more of her to see what else she can do.
The score is great, you can hear echoes from Transporter 2, and accompany the score with excellent cinematography of Monaco and French Riviera and you've got a cleanly shot and gorgeous film, though at times there are shots where a sort of TV quality creeps in which admittedly pulled me out of the experience.
As for the action and car chases which is what makes the Transporter films so memorable, they remain as high octane and as ridiculous as ever. Hand to hand combat scenes are handled nicely at times, though inconsistency is an issue here. Some of the sound design feels weak, when bodies take punches and falls, it's strangely quiet and limp, therefore making some of the impacts feeble. Though, keep an eye out for the fight scene where Frank faces off against thugs by using metal drawers in a tight corridor, a very impressive sequence. The car chase in which Frank escorts the three packages through the streets is filled with carnage and epic sweeping shots, I felt on edge and the slow motion moments are badass.
Overall, this is a harmless action film, though it's scratching the surface of what could've been a seriously slick fourth entry into the franchise. If a fifth film comes out, I just hope that the editing style and stylistic choices are questioned thoroughly. Keep Ed Skrein and Ray Stevenson and that classy Audi, throw in a stronger story and this franchise may just keep running.