The first "Transporter" film was shown in the year 2002, followed by sequels in 2005 and 2008. The main character was Frank Martin, a mercenary "transporter" with mad driving skills whom people hire to deliver people or packages anywhere. This series made an action star out of then unknown actor Jason Statham, whose brawny heft and martial arts abilities fit the character like a T.
Now that a much older Statham is now doing films like "The Expendables", producer Luc Besson decided to resurrect the character of Frank Martin with a new unknown young actor. Will this reboot be a success like the original, or will this pale in comparison like many reboots of other old film series?
Frank Martin was hired by Anna and her gang of high-class prostitutes bent on revenge. They had come up with an elaborate plot to get back at Karasov, the man who made their lives a living hell for the past 15 years. After the first deal, the girls wanted Frank to help them with the next step of their scheme, but he declined. The girls abduct his father Frank Senior in order to coerce Frank Junior to do their bidding.
New actor Ed Skrein is the new Frank Martin. "Game of Thrones" fans will recall Skrein to be the original actor cast in the role of Daario, consort of the Khaleesi. He is of the same mold Jason Statham was cut from -- tall, manly and well-built. However, Skrein, with his chiseled face and glamor posturing, felt too much like a fashion model to be completely convincing. He never really came across as a genuine rough and tough action hero, like Statham did. He has got the suave and skills part down pat, but too bad he did not have the Statham charm to complete the package.
Whatever charisma Skrein lacked in the lead role was made up for by Ray Stevenson in the role of the dad, Frank Senior. This veteran character actor owned the screen whenever he was on because of his magnetic screen presence in this secondary role. He seems miscast as a retired water salesman, but in a good way. He exuded so much confidence such that the unlikely things his character was able to do were somehow made believable. I actually wanted to see more father-son scenes between Stevenson and Skrein, as they had good chemistry together.
French model-actress Loan Chabanol played Anna. She was sexy and seductive as the role called for. Chabanol and the other three girls fulfill their roles as eye candy here. They were avenging angels one moment and damsels in distress in another. The acting may not have been remarkable, but that is not exactly why they were cast in these roles.
On its own, "The Transporter Refueled" had its moments of great action, like the brawl in the disco storeroom, or that frenetic airplane escape scene. Frank's invincible Audi sedan looks great. The film does have the Luc Besson touch, though the director here was Camille Delamarre, who has been promoted from being editor of "Transporter 3".
The familiar story is not much to care about, and will probably be forgotten soon after you leave the theater. Nevertheless I am not totally trashing this. I think I would likely watch the sequel should there be one. Without the inevitable Jason Statham shadow it finds itself under, this was actually quite engaging albeit Grade B crime action thriller. 5/10.
This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."