Stars: Ed Skrein, Loan Chabanol, Ray Stevenson, Gabriella Wright, Tatiana Pajkovic, Wenxia Yu, Radivoje Bukvic, Noémie Lenoir, Yuri Kolokolnikov, Lenn Kudrjawizki, Samir Guesmi, Anatole Taubman | Written by Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, Luc Besson | Directed by Camille Delamarre
I not going to hide the fact I’m a huge Transporter fan, from the very first movie to the more recent, if little seen here in the UK, TV show, I’ve enjoyed [to various extents] each and every entry in the franchise. So, unlike some out there, I was not afraid to see the film series rebooted with a new star and a new story. And that’s what we get with The Transporter Refueled. My only worry was that no-one connected to the original films, apart from Luc Besson, had any part of this film… But then that was also the case with the series, and I really enjoyed that!
Taking the reigns from Jason Statham and Chris Vance (who played Frank Martin on TV), Ed Skrein takes on the titular role in a reboot of the series, with a new, considerably younger and less experienced hero. This time round ex-special forces mercenary Frank Martin is still employed to transport classified packages for private clients. Unlike the original films, which had some great interplay between Transporter Jason Statham and François Berléand’s Inspector Tarconi, here we get a relationship between the transporter and his father (Ray Stevenson). This relationship becomes Frank’s downfall when he is blackmailed by a group of would-be thieves – who kidnap his father – into helping them bring down a Russian human trafficking operation and stealing a boatload of cash. Just another day for the transporter then!
Sidenote: Having a Martin family member at risk is probably the worst decision made by his movie. Frank Martin, even when he had a team to work with on TV, was still very much a loner. To add family to the mix cheapens the character somewhat. Oh, and Statham’s Frank is NEVER late (again this makes a mockery of the rules of The Transporter).
Sadly The Transporter Refueled commits the ultimate filmic sin – despite the over the top action strewn within it (Skrien even gets to show off some fantastic moves at times), this film is just dull AND it drags out its story for far too long. Even worse than that: it fails to live up to, and somewhat makes a mockery of, the previous movies. Fair enough, the TV series played with the constraints of The Transporter franchise that were laid out in the first three movies but it did so in an hour-long format and in its own televisual universe. Doing it here, in a movie, actually feels like a betrayal of all that has come before. It’s like the filmmakers chose to ignore the Transporter “bible” and make up their own rules… Honestly I could never see Statham’s Frank Martin helping a bunch of theives. Ever. Even if his father’s life was at risk.
As an action movie The Transporter Refueled works (it’s DTV level quality at best). It is packed with some great stunts, great fights and there’s a decent amount of intrigue to keep you watching during the duller moments. It just doesn’t feel like a Transporter movie. It’s hard to determine which is worse, this or The Transporter 3…
The Transporter Refueled is out now on DVD and Blu-ray from ICON Entertainment.