The Transporter Refueled - Is the Franchise Out of Gas?

Matthew Parkinson | 4 Sep 2015 12:00
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Directed by Camille Delamarre. Produced by Luc Besson and Mark Gao. Written by Luc Besson, Bill Collage, and Adam Cooper. Release date: September 4, 2015.

Did anybody actually want another Transporter movie? No, seriously. We got three of them, and then a TV show - which is currently waiting to either return for a third season or get cancelled, the latter of which being far more likely given its ratings - and now a fourth movie. The Luc Besson-created series has been relatively profitable, it's true, but only the second movie was any good, and now we've replaced Jason Statham with Ed Skrein, whose biggest claim to fame at this point is a three-episode stint on Game of Thrones. That's a box office draw if there ever was one...

It's not clear what The Transporter Refueled actually is, but then it doesn't really matter, I guess. Is it a reboot, a sequel, a midquel, or a prequel? Irrelevant. These movies have always been about the adventures of Frank Martin (Skrein), a getaway driver and martial artist; the order in which the events of his life occur are of little consequence. This time around, he finds himself embroiled in a conflict between a pimp/drug dealer/legitimate businessman named Karasov (Radivoje Bukvic) and a quartet of prostitutes who escaped his grasp and now intend to seek their revenge.

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They're led by Anna (Loan Chabanol), the only one whose name you'll be able to remember. In order to lure Frank into the mix, they kidnap his father (Ray Stevenson), claim he's poisoned, and will only administer the antidote with Frank's cooperation. So, we get some fist fights, some car chases - scratch that: a lot of car chases - and one or two shootouts, all over a plot that matters only to a few characters involved, but not to the audience.

The film fails to make us care about the plight of the prostitutes, which is too bad because what little we do get to know about them makes them sympathetic - but that amount adds up to approximately two scenes of embarrassing exposition. Why, exactly, are they doing this, beyond feeling wronged by their boss? What, even, is their exact plan? In terms of movie pimps, Karasov isn't even that bad of a guy, really. He's not even abusive, unless that happened in scenes that the filmmakers cut in order to make sure The Transporter Refueled received a PG-13 rating from the MPAA.

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