It happens far too often. Someone decides that a franchise that was mediocre in the first place, needs to continue despite losing its lead and competent director. I’m not saying that Transporter: Refueled is a work of incompetence, it is certainly polished enough to stand among it’s predecessors, but it lacks virtually any of the redeeming components – chief of which are it’s worthwhile set pieces and charismatic lead.
Opening in 1995, a local mob, led by Arkady slaughter a crew of pimps and sex traffickers, steal their women and in the process traumatise those who refused to join his ranks. Cut to present day and Anna, one of these unfortunate women hires Frank Martin, ‘The Transporter’ to be the getaway driver for a simple bank robbery. Once the deal is done, he finds himself embroiled in more than he bargained for when Anna and her friends kidnap his father and blackmail him into helping them get revenge on Arkady.
Refueled is the kind of movie that doesn’t fail because of one massive flaw. It isn’t that any one thing is awful, it’s more that every component is so sub-par that the film as a whole feels incredibly underwhelming and plain bad once it’s finished.
Take the story for example. Executed well, it could have been a nice little romp involving blackmail, the power of seduction and loyalty and yet, it falls into cliche territory. Furthermore, it isn’t particularly well written, so all of the back stabbing and multiple Macguffins make for quite an incoherent narrative.
However, it is a Transporter movie so we’re relying on car chases and fist fights to carry us over the line. Well they’re there. Ok, I’ll give credit where it’s due, the car chases are actually nicely filmed and have a healthy collection of crashes and stunts. The fights are where things kind of get a bit boring. They just didn’t feel very impactful and it seems like Refueled was trying too hard to cover that Jackie Chan style of using anything within reach as a weapon. Instead it just became laughable.
In fact, even though it is a staple of the series, Refueled is just a tad too far fetched. Particular highlights include Frank jumping his car into an aerobridge and driving through an airport terminal and Frank hitting the sand on a speedboat, launching himself through the drivers side window of a car. He isn’t Captain America, let’s tone it down a notch.
The worst part might be Ed Skrein as Frank Martin. He works with what he is given but his lack of charisma and cringey one-liners (which is probably half the poor dialogues fault) make you long for Statham. It’s bad when his dad (Ray Stevenson) is more suave than him.
I can certainly think of worse ways to spend an hour and a half. Maybe we have been too spoilt with big budget action and charming leads in all of these superhero movies so a silly straight to DVD sequel just isn’t going to cut it. But hey, there are some nice set pieces, kick ass women and a bit of harmless fun to be had.
Film Review Score: TWO STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Transporter: Refueled is available now on DVD & Blu-Ray.