The Transporter Refueled has been getting hammered by critics. I'm chiming in on the positive side because it's actually an entertaining movie. Yes, the plot is ludicrous and wafer thin. The players, sans Ray Stevenson, look like they were selected out of a European model catalog. But totally worth seeing to get your action fix during the long weekend. Ed Skrein takes over the role of Frank Martin. He doesn't hold a candle to Jason Statham, but in all fairness, he does okay. This isn't Shakespeare. Skrein beats baddies to a pulp, drives like a maniac, wears a black suit, shags the heroine, and does it all in a genteel manner. Good enough to make The Transporter Refueled a no brainer, guilty pleasure action flick.
The film opens in 1995 with a teenage Anna (Loan Chabanol) forced into prostitution on the French Riviera by a vicious pimp (Radijove Bukvic). In the present, Frank (Ed Skrein) picks up his father (Ray Stevenson) for some quality Martin family time. The reunion is short lived as a now grown Anna needs a driver quickly. Frank becomes an unwilling accomplice when his father is kidnapped. Dragged into a twisted scheme of revenge and theft, with his father's life on the line.
If you liked the previous Transporter movies, you will like this one. It's not as good as the others. It's pure formula and that's not terrible. The elaborate fight scenes, choreographed like a beat down ballet, are exactly what you'd expect from Frank Martin. The trademark Audi is more tricked out than usual, although it's not quite in the Bond realm with gadgetry. There are vehicle chases galore. Slickly edited with enough destroyed cop cars to fill a junkyard. It's a pop action spectacle that certainly looked good in IMAX.
The female roles are all prostitutes fighting back against an evil oppressor. You root for the ladies, but they are hyper sexualized in this film. I suppose that's the other half of the draw. Scantily clad women on the side to go with your main course of wonton violence. There's no nudity, but scene after scene shows a lot of skin. You do get your gratuitous shots of a shirtless Ed Skrein, but he takes a pretty good beating. To the film's credit, the lead characters aren't invulnerable and there are casualties.
Ray Stevenson provides much needed comic relief as Frank's father. He and Ed Skrein make the most of their weak dialogue. The pair work well together when the bullets start flying. I'm not sure Skrein could have pulled this movie off without Stevenson. Jason Statham has a commanding screen presence, but is also able to show a soft touch. Skrein isn't versatile here. Stevenson adds the humanity to round out the Frank Martin character.
The Transporter Refueled works as an action film. It's got a lean runtime and never gets boring. The sub par acting and plot aren't enough of an anchor to make this film unwatchable. I found it to be mindless fun, with all of the basic tenets that made the other Transporter films enjoyable. If you're looking for a fun trashy way to spend Labor Day weekend, this will do the trick!