Fast cars, sexy women and a courier with a London accent... it can only mean another Transporter film.
With Jason Statham deciding to step down from the role as professional courier, Frank Martin, the torch has now been passed to fellow Brit, Ed Skrein.But is this a movie franchise that should have just cut it’s losses with the third film? In The Transporter Refueled we find Frank having left his role as a special forces operative and now working as a professional courier, one that gets the job done, no questions asked, as 'The Transporter'. Residing in the French Riviera, Frank’s father, also called Frank (Ray Stevenson), joins him for some father-son bonding which gets cut short by femme-fatal Anna (Loan Chabanol), Frank’s latest client. What Frank thinks is a routine pickup, turns out to be all part of a bigger plan to blackmail him into helping Anna and her two identically dressed comrades.The three women intend to use Frank as part of a plan to exact revenge on their ex Russian pimp Arkady Karasov (Radivoje Bukvic) and his henchmen. Camille Delamarre previously worked as an editor on Transporter 3 but has now taken up the reigns as director to bring us the fourth instalment in the Transporter franchise, which takes on more of an origins angle laying out a bit more history to Frank’s character. With Luc Besson on board as one of the film's writers, the other two being Adam Cooper and Bill Collage, the film is sure to maintain at least some of the essence from the first three movies.
Skrein’s performance isn’t terrible and he does play the part of Frank Martin pretty well. It’s not too difficult to envision him as a younger version of Statham’s Frank Martin. He plays by his own set of rules (which he seems quite happy to break when it suits him), has that toned muscular physique and a penchant for black suits and fast cars. Similarly to Statham, Skrein did the majority of his own stunts, one sequence in particular which was rather awesome took place in the middle of a narrow corridor with filling cabinets on both sides.
Picking up on a lot of the mannerisms employed by Statham in the first three films, Skrein manages to convincingly carry off the part of a younger Frank Martin. There is an attempt to try and show Frank as more of a sentimental character, this is done predominantly through the interactions between him and Frank, Sr. There are mild moments of humour with Frank Sr. taking on the role of comedy relief which was previously held by François Berléand as Inspector Tarconi. Stevenson is mildly amusing as Frank Sr. but does maintain a certain fatherly ‘I know better’ quality throughout the film which aids in placing Skrein as a young man trying to live up to his fathers standards and expectations.
Chabanol plays Anna, the lead of four femme-fatals, the other three being Gabriella Wright as Gina, Tatiana Pajkovic as Maria and Wenxia Yu as Qiao. Anna is dark, sultry and intent on bringing down the man that forced her and her three musketeers into the sex trade - laying out all the rules, Anna is in charge and nothing is going to stand in their way. Chabanol delivers a reasonably good performance, instilling just enough sexiness to make Frank hot under the collar while ensuring he does exactly as he’s told. Delamarre attempts to make a vaguely serious point about the issues surrounding women and children being thrust into the sex trade through Anna’s character and a comment made by Frank Sr, but contradicts it by placing the women on display and all too eager to thank their heroes through sexual favours.
Same rules, same suit and a fast car with almost as much technology as KITT.
When watching The Transporter Refueled you would be forgiven for thinking that the Audi S8 was the main star of the film, as it takes centre stage during the opening credits. However, it is in fact Ed Skrein who is the star, but he does at times have to share the lime light with Audi. In the same vein as the three previous Transporter films, this reboot follows Frank as he gets caught in the middle of someone else’s fight. Only this time it’s personal and Frank has no choice but to cooperate. Throw in some scantily clad women, fist fights, car chases and the threat of being poisoned and you’ve got the formula of a good action movie, right?
Well, almost. While Delamarre has tried to bring something new to this franchise it ultimately remains the same. Yes, there are some excellently shot fight sequences in which the camera circles a full 360 degrees and some good use of slow motion and fast zooms to amp up the car chases (albeit for the benefit of seeing it in 3D I expect), but aside from the action there isn’t really much else to The Transporter Refueled. It certainly isn’t what you might call work of art and the story line, which actually repeats itself throughout the film, isn’t one which will be remembered for years to come.
Having said that, the film is one that you can’t help but enjoy on some level, primarily for the car chases and fight scenes. Filmed in France there are some stunning aerial shots and not to mention a superb car chase through an airport. This film is very much a visual affair, the acting isn’t going win any awards, but likewise with Hitman: Agent 47, you wouldn’t necessarily go to see either of these films because of the great performances. It’s the fast cars, the girls and the fighting you want to see, and The Transporter Refueled has it all and with rumours of a trilogy, you can only expect more of the same ‘leave your mind at the door’ fun.
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