Movie Review: “The Transporter Refueled”

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First Principle. No Jason Statham? No “Transporter.”

Sure, Clive Owen managed a fair impersonation of one in those BMW commercials (short movies) that came out shortly after Statham and Luc Besson’s Man-of-Few-Words getaway driver in France film opened. But could anybody else have managed the martial arts brawls, the scowls, the growl?

So Ed Skrein, from “Game of Thrones,” “The Sweeney” and “Northmen — A Viking Saga,” is up against it right out of the gate.

Then there’s the way editor-turned-director Camille Delamarre introduces him. Sunglasses, sure. But it’s the CAR, a James Bond-modified Audi S8 that gets the heroic entrance, a fetishized 360 pan straight out of a TV commercial — or “Top Gear” wet dream.

There’s no mention of previous Transporters, just a new guy playing Frank Martin, ex-British military, making a very nice living in the nice confines of Nice, Monte Carlo and the French Riviera.

“People always need guys like me,” the Transporter grins.

A gang of impossibly skinny stiletto-heeled hookers needs a driver to pull off heists against their Eastern European pimp ( Radivoje Bukvic).

“I’m a LEGITIMATE businessman!”

The blonde-bewigged black mini-dressed hookers kidnap Frank’s ex-spy dad (Ray Stevenson). Not much of a spy, if Robert Palmer’s backup bandcan get the drop on him.

But don’t think about this one too much. Or at all. That field-improvised trauma surgery on one leggy larcenist is quickly forgotten. Yeah, she was bleeding out and all they managed to do was patch the surface wound. She’s back in action in a flash.

The hookers’ “All for one and one for all” “Three Musketeers” quotes are…laughable.

Some actors show signs of being dubbed into English. Skrein’s entire voice track feels removed from the others sharing scenes with him (“Ed, please, another loop and MORE HOARSE whispery!”). Skrein isn’t bad. He’s just boring.

The villain’s a non-entity, or a collection of non-entities.

And the car? Yaaaaaawn. Eight-speed Triptronic transmission? A “Transporter” who doesn’t drive a stick? The chases are nothing special, with the exception of one bit of business involving drifting and setting off fire hydrants. The poor police of Monte Carlo are all stuck in Renault and Peugot econo-boxes.

That makes for a car movie that’s stuck in neutral, low octaned to death.
1star6 MPAA Rating:PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, sexual material, some language, a drug reference and thematic elements

Cast: Ed Skrein, Ray Stevenson, Loan Chabanol, Gabriella Wright,

Credits: Directed Camille Delamarre, script by Adam Cooper, Bill Collage and Luc Besson. by Max Joseph, script by Max Joseph, Meaghan Oppenheimer and Richard Silverman. A Europa release.

Running time: 1:36

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