The Transporter Refueled is Camille Delamarre’s follow up to his directorial feature debut, Brick Mansions. Released seven years after the final film in the Transporter trilogy, starring Jason Statham, this film sets to reboot the series with relative newcomer, Ed Skrien (Game of Thrones). 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.
Frank Martin (Skrien) is what is known as a transporter, 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. After being hired by a dangerous femme fatale, Anna (Loan Chabanol), and her three sidekicks for what should have been a simple job, Frank discovers that he has been played. Anna has not only double-crossed him, but also kidnapped his father (Ray Stevenson) in an attempt to bring down a 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-fuelled rampage.
Skrien does well as the notorious transporter, hell-bent on revenge and, with his physique, is fairly believable as a martial arts expert-type. He does, however, perform with a growling voice, one notably deeper than his norm, which is an obvious attempt to replicate Statham’s. The result then, is that his performance seems less like an interpretation of the ‘Frank Martin’ character and more like an imitation of the original actor. Yet, Skrien can’t really be blamed for this, seeing as ‘Frank Martin’ is Statham and that by subtracting him there isn’t really much left to the character to play with at all.
Admittedly, there are a few fun moments in the film that warrant a chuckle or a smirk, although the tongue-in-cheek one liners are enough to make sure your eyes get their daily rolling exercise. The action is fairly consistent with the previous films, and there’s a clear ‘bigger is better’ attitude present, but the fighting scenes still look a little too rehearsed and more like a dancing routine than the brutal, CGI-enhanced takedowns they’re meant to be.
The only real question the film poses is why it was created in the first place. The obvious answer is to cash in on a known brand, but with a trilogy still somewhat fresh in recent memory and with an attempt at a television series only back in 2012, there isn’t much this go-around could offer that hasn’t already been done in some form. There are only so many different ways you can spin the concept of delivering a package before ideas begin to recycle and repeat, although, coming from the producers of the Taken series and Lucy, these would definitely be the people to do so.
The only audience that will find any real interest in The Transporter Refueled will be fans of the original trilogy, who will sorely miss Statham, and those who enjoy high-octane action that requires very little thought. Anyone else would do well to avoid.
THE REEL SCORE: 4/10