UK Release Date: 4th September 2015
Runtime: 96 minutes
Director: Camille Delamarre
Writer: Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, Luc Besson
Starring: Ed Skrein, Loan Chabanol, Ray Stevenson, Gabriella Wright, Radivoje Bukvić, Wenxia Yu, Tatjana Pajković
Synopsis: A mercenary now working as a shady delivery driver finds himself thrust into violence on the trail of a trafficker.
Few would argue with the statement that Jason Statham is one of the most recognisable action movie stars of the modern era. From the stylised insanity of the Crank films to his brutal villain in Fast & Furious 7, Statham has become an indelible figure in the world of punching people in the face and firing a gun whilst grunting one-liners. One of his most successful franchises, The Transporter, has now been rebooted, with Game of Thrones star Ed Skrein stepping into Statham’s arse-kicking shoes… and distinctly failing to fill them.
Frank Martin (Skrein) transports packages for people, without asking questions about who they are or what the package is. One day, he is hired by prostitute Anna (Loan Chabanol) and her friends who orchestrate a bank robbery. They later kidnap Frank’s father (Ray Stevenson) in order to coerce Frank into helping them bring down the trafficker (Radivoje Bukvić) who forced them into sex work.
The Transporter Refuelled is probably the most boring film of the year. If anyone was ever in any doubt that it was the presence of Jason Statham that made the franchise work, that doubt would have been extinguished within about ten minutes of the film starting. It’s the epitome of bland, emotionally empty action cinema and, on release, it formed a depressing double whammy of noisy gunplay with Hitman: Agent 47.
| "That was the old days. Now we hold grudges and get revenge."
At the centre of it all is Ed Skrein. It’s unclear how much of the character is his fault and how much is down to direction, but Skrein comes across as a charisma-free Statham impersonator, who delivers every line in a monotone growl, without even the merest flicker of emotion, aggression or personality on his face. And, despite that, he is still somehow the most charismatic character in the entirety of the film.
Everything around Skrein is simply a shifting landscape of disposable characters and bland action sequences. The fights in The Transporter Refuelled are tightly choreographed, but suffer given the complete lack of empathy created for any of the characters. It isn’t until you watch something like this that you realise just how impressive Statham’s grasp of movie violence is and really start to miss him and his balletic methods of punching people in the face.
The plot, too, lacks any sort of impetus for the audience to care about the characters, navigating a basic pathway of double crosses, rug pulls and action scenes. There’s also a liberal helping of women in lingerie and fast cars slamming into each other, but without the casual winking to the audience that just about allows the Fast & Furious films to get away with it. Here, it just feels leery.
| "You think this is the first time someone’s held a gun to my head?"
If the goal with The Transporter Refuelled was to give the franchise a new lease of life, then this goes down as a clear and catastrophic failure. Not only has the movie been savaged by critics and however many audience members managed to stay awake until the end, but it limped to only $30m at the worldwide box office. That puts it way behind the Jason Statham era of the franchise and should, if there’s any justice, prevent the franchise returning for, as Vin Diesel would no doubt say, one last ride.
Pop or Poop?
The Transporter Refuelled is a formulaic action movie of the worst kind, handing soulless, empty fight scenes to an actor firing on no cylinders and with nothing more than a thumbnail of a character.
This franchise’s clip just ran out and there’s no ammo left to reload.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.