Synopsis – In the south of France, former special-ops mercenary Frank Martin enters into a game of chess with a femme-fatale and her three sidekicks who are looking for revenge against a sinister Russian kingpin.
My Take – I am sure every action film enthusiast knows about the dumb plotted but crazy entertaining Transporter films. With the 1st installment releasing back in 2002, a high octane action thriller which ascended the at the time unknown Jason Statham to action star status. The Transporter series (Transporter 2 released in 2005 & Transporter 3 released in 2008) had set a high bar for action adventure, having delivered some of the most memorable action packed sequences in the genre. While arguably Jason Statham‘s stardom is on a downside currently with (in my opinion) The Mechanic (2011) & his recent comic turn in the Melissa McCarthy action comedy Spy & the antagonist turn in the curiously growing action installment Furious 7, being the only films to gloat about in disappointing filmography. There’s no doubt that audiences will ask themselves why on earth did this movie get created especially without Jason Statham. Well the most obvious answer to this would be, the producers attempting to make some money on the name of a well known brand, or maybe Jason Statham was just too busy. But honestly, how many times can you flip the script of a man delivering a package before your imagination starts to die down? Probably one of the reasons the TV series adaption (starring Chris Vance as the lead) lies in a bubble after mixed received two seasons. With all stakes against his favor director Camille Delamarre (Brick Mansions), reboots the series with relative newcomer, Ed Skrien (Game of Thrones & the upcoming Deadpool).
The good news is the film continues to offer up an action film that’s on the spectrum between a James Bond thriller and a Hong Kong-style fight movie, albeit this time with fancier technological gadgets to wow the audience. Although it features fresh faces and a new story line, the film features plenty of the heart-pounding car chases that have made the Transporter franchise an enduring favorite among fans around the world. One of things which makes the film stand out mainly other than the innovative action sequences is the excellent dynamic chemistry between the father-son duo, something which we could not have been expected from a film of such a franchise. The story follows Frank Martin (Ed Skrien), known to the French Riviera’s criminal underworld as the best driver money can buy, a driver for hire who will deliver a package anywhere, anytime and regardless of the risk, that is, if the price is right. He only has three unbreakable rules: never change the deal, no names, and never open the package. But his rule book goes out the window when he is tricked by gorgeous fem me-fatale Anna (Loan Chabanol) along with her three associates Gina (Gabriella Wright), Maria (Tatiana Pajkovic) & Qiao (Wenxia Yu), into driving as a getaway car for an ingenious bank robbery. Racing through the streets of Monaco in a state-of-the-art Audi, Frank unwittingly becomes entangled in a scheme to bring down Yuri (Yuri Kolokolnikov), the Russian human trafficker who forced Anna into prostitution 15 years ago. Anna has not only double-crossed him, but also kidnapped his father Frank Sr (Ray Stevenson) in an attempt to bring down the Russian syndicate of human traffickers. Now, with his father’s life on the line, Frank must break each of his rules to save him as he begins a revenge-fueled rampage. The only thing bringing people in to this movie is fans of the original series who will without any doubts miss the sleek character of Statham. The movie is filled with humorous moments where a smirk or a brief chuckle might come across the audience, personally I loved the witty one liners! The level of action displayed matched and is a competitor with the past films in the series. Its easily noticeable how the makers have attempted to make the action scenes much bigger aiming for a better outlook, good news for them they have succeeded in every form & frame. This is one of those movies you can’t take seriously. From the trailers it looks like a ridiculously outrageous romp, & it delivers on its promise. Slightly steering the franchise towards a more realistic sheen, director Camille Delamarre does an admirable job. Aided by Skrein’s energetic performance, Frank is a street-wise hero determined to use his wits to untangle himself out of bad situations. Bringing a dangerous edge to the fight scenes, you can feel Frank’s determination to overcome obstacles and the zeal he has in defeating his enemies.
Ed Skrien does a great job playing the transporter who is just focused on revenge. He manages to pull off his deeper voice than usual to replicate the character of Statham’s. The deeper voice ruins the originality of the ‘Frank Martin’ character and seems like it’s a direct replica of the original character, but you can’t blame Skrien because the absence of Jason Statham leaves nothing left to the character. Ray Stevenson is a riot! Utilizing his charms to his best, Stevenson gets to do it all here – pull off stunts, romance the ladies, pass quirky one lines & in the end spend some time with this son. The chemistry between Ed Skrien & Ray Stevenson is the highlight of this film. The femme Fatales – Loan Chabanol, Gabriella Wright, Tatiana Pakkovic & Wenxia Yu sizzle with their looks & on screen presence. The series isn’t known for its in-depth characterization and this installment follows the same suit. It isn’t a total hollow vessel with enough character moments to maintain interest in between explosions. The action is what everyone wants and there is plenty: from car, boat and plane chases, the vehicle destruction runs high. All are expertly photographed with the vistas of the French Riviera used to maximum effect. The locales add a glossy, James Bond-feel with the pacing never running out of steam. On the whole, ‘The Transporter Refueled‘, is an agreeable entry in a furiously thunderous series. Whilst still not the most mind-blowing action movie made, The Transporter Refueled (formerly titled The Transporter Legacy) fulfills its purpose. Re-starting the series with ease and full of elements making for diverting viewing, it’s no wonder why Director Camille Delamarre voiced his confidence that the latest installment, with its new leading man, revenge-fueled women, brutal street-fighting brawls and metal-bending chase sequences, will more than exceed audience expectations. Expect lots of car chases, some good acting, and pure cheese like “As soon as you think they can’t come up with something, they come up with something else.” This film is for those who don’t mind good popcorn entertainment, and enjoy high-octane action that requires very little thought. Anyone else would do well to avoid.
Director – Camille Delamarre
Rated – PG13
Run Time – 96 minutes