Starring Ed Skrein, Ray Stevenson and Loan Chabanol
Two-and-a-half out of five stars
If I were to make an honest trailer about "The Transporter Refueled," the script would sound like this:
"In a world ... where Hollywood keeps re-purposing familiar brands ... comes a movie so unnecessary ... you won’t even recognize the name of the actor playing the title role! Starring ... a guy who showed up in a few episodes of 'Game of Thrones' and was replaced by another actor! Plus ... a bunch of actors who were hired because they look like movie stereotypes of mobsters!"
Having said that, "The Transporter Refueled" isn’t bad. Though it's still unnecessary.
The story takes place in the French Riviera in 2010. A high-priced prostitute named Anna (Loan Chabanol) has devised a plan to rip off her brutal Russian mobster pimp, and hires Frank Martin, a.k.a. "The Transporter," to help. Along for the ride is Frank’s dad, Frank Sr. (Ray Stevenson), a retired spy pretending to be an Evian salesman. Stevenson charms as the movie’s debonair comic relief, delivering a Roger Moore-esque performance. Too bad his character arc feels like it was informed by a Magic 8 Ball.
But let’s talk about Ed Skrein, the actor who plays Frank Martin. Having done this for a little while now, I know Ed’s going to get picked apart by some critics and fans for simply not being Jason Statham, who originated the role in 2002. Statham had already garnered some attention for a couple of Guy Ritchie collaborations, but "The Transporter" was his breakout role as a leading man and action star. He was so good at it, it really is hard to image anyone else playing Frank. As it turns out, Skrein is more than adequate to the task. He’s not as gritty or charismatic as Statham, but he’s a fine actor with a much different physique, and a cool enough demeanor to keep us interested.
Undoubtedly, fans attracted to this movie because of the "Transporter" brand will expect thrilling action sequences and stunts -- and those are absolutely the strength of this movie. Most of today’s action sequences seem like white noise: we keep seeing the same thing over and over again, and it’s boring. Here, we have a number of original sequences, including a couple of creative stunts and visuals we haven’t really seen before.
All that said, the outlandish script and story, and the lack of star power, will only allow this "Transporter" to be refueled once.