Published Sep 02, 2015In a recent interview with Esquire, competitive diver-turned-action star Jason Statham admitted that the majority of his cinematic output has been "shite," save for his work with Guy Ritchie and the first two Transporter films — a series he starred in throughout the last decade as ass-kicking, professional "transporter"-for-hire Frank Martin — which he described as being "pretty good." Statham was, no doubt, being generous in his assertion.
A box-office behemoth overseas, French director, writer and producer Luc Besson's The Transporter and its many offerings have always felt a little misplaced in North America. Maybe it's the Audis, or the endless number of dirtbags in thin leather jackets, or even the worn-down, sea-ravaged resorts, but the series has always seemed like a semi-terrifying, vacuous vacation through Southern Europe, emphasizing all the stale stereotypes associated with the action genre (i.e. bullets, babes in bikinis and high-octane automobiles) while offering none of the intrigue and amazement found in other franchises.
The Transporter: Refueled is more than just a silly, somewhat stupid title for a new reboot. By the third film in the series, the whole project had run out of gas, sticking around only to entertain viewers still high off the fumes of the first two. Seven years (and one okay TV spinoff) later, Frank Martin is back in the driver's seat (this time being played by Games of Thrones star Ed Skrein, who is strangely taking over for Statham even though he still looks ageless at 48).
From his slightly crooked smile to the way his hair is shorn, Skrein's take is a welcome, albeit subtle, upgrade to the character, maintaining all of Martin's charm (that is, if you find his kind of character charming) while simultaneously giving him a bit more grit.
Sadly, the story, like most in the Transporter series, is still secondary to car chases and five-on-one fight scenes (which, for the most part, seem uninspired, as even the more elaborate action scenes are weighed down by mediocre graphics and run-of-the-mill stunts).
Martin is unknowingly hired by a group of three beautiful women to help them escape an illegal prostitution ring they were forced into at a young age; they escape with the money made off of them by their pimp, an Eastern European crime lord with ties to other nefarious businesses and organizations. The evil villain ultimately gets his comeuppances through an array of dropkicks to the face through car windows and other miscellaneous martial arts moves by Martin. So yes, as can be expected, Refueled continues Transporter's spotty legacy of using women as lust-worthy, sexual playthings rather than bona fide leads.
Those hoping for a fully revamped franchise will be disappointed here. Like a car bought on Craigslist, The Transporter: Refueled looks decent enough from the outside, but underneath its shiny surface it's still just a lemon.