Featuring more models than a Taylor Swift video, The Transporter Refueled attempts to reboot the Jason Statham-led series that commenced in 2002. Unlike the lead-off Louis Leterrier and Cory Yuen-helmed flick, this 2015 fiasco is bereft of personality and jangles around like a tinny lump of Eurodance music.
The Transporter Refueled is directed by Camille Delamarre, who edited such genre pics as Taken 2 and Transporter 3 before making his directorial debut with Brick Mansions. That 2014 actioner featured David Belle’s parkour and managed to ruin the copious action with frenzied editing and poor shot selection. The same issues plague The Transporter Refueled.
Ed Skrein stars as Frank Martin, a chauffeur for less-than-savoury characters. He’s hired by a group of irritated prostitutes on the French Riviera. His initial contact is Anna (Loan Chabanol). She eventually reveals that the other women have kidnapped Martin’s father Frank Sr. (Ray Stevenson). They’ve poisoned him and are withholding the remedy until Frank Jr. does the job.
The prostitutes rob a bank and commit a few other missions, all with end goals of getting at the Russian crime boss Arkady (Radivoje Bukvić). He pals around with the baffling Maissa (Noémie Lenoir), who occasionally shakes her booty. All hell breaks loose across the Côte d’Azur as the two Franks and their pile of prostitutes try to get the job done.
It goes without saying that the Transporter movies are ridiculous. One highlight of the original flick finds Statham sprawling around in oil, for crying out loud, so it’s wise to leave any talk of solemnity aside. The trouble with Refueled is that it takes itself much too seriously to pass as a pertinent colleague to Luc Besson’s gobsmacked French rowdiness, even if the man himself is still involved with the writing.
Sadly, this outing lacks the necessary joie de vivre to succeed as anything other than a tepid blur. The trouble starts with Skrein, who crustily slobbers every line and manages the personality of a brick. While Statham was capable of nudging the lens a few times, Skrein farts around without a jot of charisma. His opening scene attempts it, but the script is wrong and the delivery is downright horizontal.
Stevenson does better as his father, but the movie’s insistence on packing in some sort of patriarchal gibberish veers into bizarre subtext when both of the Martin men engage in what the prostitutes do best. While Stevenson’s Frank Sr. does seem to be enjoying the fruits of his labour, there’s more to developing a character than the purchase of a $900 bottle of wine.
The women are all prostitutes, with four of them trying to duck out on the business because of the abuses they’ve suffered. They’re all made into cardboard morons thanks to the careless script, plus it doesn’t help that there isn’t a real actress in the bunch. Chabanol spends some time attempting emotional range, but she literally strains to cry and it’s painful to watch.
The others don’t fare much better, especially when it’s time to don the blonde wigs and squirm as Martin drives his flashy car. Despite casting themselves as bad-ass babes hell-bent on taking down their reprehensible pimp, they cringe and wriggle like teenagers when the stone-faced driver crashes his Audi through a little fence.
The action is where The Transporter Refueled should pick up the slack, but Delamarre and cinematographer Christophe Collette go out of their way to avoid showing the cool stuff. Editor Julien Rey chops the shit out of every scene, with little but suggestions of impact outstanding. Fight scenes are mystifying mixes of wide shots and twirls and the car chases underwhelm.
Delamarre showed some promise with Brick Mansions, but this thing finds him playing to all of his weaknesses and none of his strengths. There is no reason to see The Transporter Refueled. It is among the very worst movies of 2015 and functions only as a pointless, flaccid, tedious advertisement for itself.