'The Transporter: Refueled' is just plain stupid

Sep 9, 2015 at 1:00 am

The Transporter: Refueled / D+

Rated PG-13

Run Time: 96 minutes

Stupid. But not in a good way. Just plain, insufferably stupid. The Transporter movies would never be considered anyone's idea of high art. Or even ambitious entertainment. They were amusing action films that benefited from inventive fight scenes, Jason Statham's charisma, and giddy homoerotic subtext. This reboot has none of those things, and even less. With a dull, new lead actor, a fumbling director at the helm, and a convoluted yet crap script by a trio of writers, this laughable reboot comes off as the rinky-dink, D-grade Euro cousin to the Fast and the Furious movies.

Let's start with Ed Skrein, who now sits behind the wheel as uber chauffeur Frank Martin. Where Statham brought the right mix of deadpan, stone-cold swagger, and annoyed heroism, Skrein (the first Daario Naharis in Game of Thrones) is, well, tall. And serious. But mostly empty. He's hunky and has the cockney accent but little else. His character is more a hodgepodge of generic action cliches than anything you can grab onto — even with the addition of Ray Stevenson as his dad. Frank Sr. claims to be a retiring Evian salesman but is clearly a former spy — albeit a pretty bad one since he gets kidnapped not once, but twice in the movie. Oh, and he likes to call his kickass son, Junior — ala Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Director Camille Delamarre is mostly known as an editor (he cut Taken 2 and The Transporter 3) and that's how he shoots Refueled, like a guy more concerned with hiding than revealing what's going on during the film's numerous hand-to-hand and gun fights. He fares a little better with the vehicle chases, but takes numerous opportunities to make his film blatantly double as an Audi commercial. Frank's first appearance in the film could easily be run as an ad unto itself. Frank's insipid opening lines go thusly: "Technology moves fast, doesn't it? I mean as soon as you think they can't come up with something, they come up with something else."

Finally, there's the complicated but ultimately hackneyed script by Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, and creator Luc Besson. In a nutshell, the story goes like this: Frank is hired by Anna (Loan Chabanol), a former prostitute who, along with three compatriots, gets into a caper that involves the women exacting revenge on their former pimp, a villainous Russia crime boss (colorlessly played by Rasha Bukvic). To ensure Frank's cooperation, the four femme fatales kidnap and poison Frank Sr., promising the antidote when the job is complete. Macho fist fights, elaborate car chases, and chaotic gun battles then rage across the French Riviera.

Here's the thing: It's bad enough that the women's goal could have been accomlished in an hour less time if they had just killed the bad guys and cut off their thumbs, but it's worse that Refueled so relentlessly objectifies the women in exactly the same way the villains do. Not only is every female in the film a scantily clad prostitute (with Delamarre shooting them the same way he shoots the cars), but they also, after a lifetime of sexual abuse, happily shag the hero and his pop. Frank Sr. actually indulges in three-way sex, with one of the girls joining in just hours after she's been shot in the chest. The preview audience appropriately laughed in disbelief. In the summer that saw the rise of Imperator Furiosa, I'm sorry, this just won't do.