Editor’s Notes: The Transporter Refueled is currently out in wide theatrical release.
Another year; another Luc Besson production. The former king of 90s action cinema has since become Hollywood’s largest purveyor of middling-to-braindead trash, ranging from the puppyish stupidity of Lucy to the outdated white male fantasy of Taken. His latest act of career suicide: debut director Camille Delamarre’s unwarranted reboot of the apparently once-popular Jason Statham franchise. Relative newcomer Ed Skrein is the cut-price Stath-alike in search of a big hit to boost himself to superstardom. He is, sadly, looking in the wrong place. For The Transporter Refueled is a glorified Audi commercial that works solely, if at all, as an unintentional comedy of filmmaking errors. The ineptitude on display both in front of and behind the camera is beyond belief. That being said, the spectacle of a major feature film failing on such fundamental levels gradually becomes weirdly engrossing. It’s The Room of action cinema, and all the better for it…
The Transporter Refueled is a glorified Audi commercial that works solely, if at all, as an unintentional comedy of filmmaking errors.
Frank Martin is a driver for hire, whose meticulously choreographed life falls into chaos when he takes on the wrong job. For the fourth time. Without wanting to be facetious, you’d think by now he’d have moved on to a job with a lower body count. This time around, he gets caught up in a prostitute’s search for revenge against her Russian (who else?) employer. Coerced by the kidnapping of his father (Ray Stevenson, who briefly enlivens proceedings with an outrageous mock-British accent and a faux-playboy demeanour), Frank must draw upon all his initiative to survive the deadly cat-and-mouse game he has no stake in. Refueled’s overarching problem is a complete lack of narrative engagement from anyone involved. It becomes abundantly clear mere moments into the laborious 96-minute runtime that Delamarre holds precisely zero interest in making a quality film; all he wants to do is sell some Audis. Honestly, the first present day scene is nothing but Frank describing all the features of his revered vehicle of choice. And Europa Corp. want you to pay to watch this monstrosity?
Refueled’s overarching problem is a complete lack of narrative engagement from anyone involved.
The action is mostly serviceable, though far too choppily edited to leave any form of impact moments after. Where the film goes to die is its sub-amateurish screenplay by Besson, Bill Collage and Adam Cooper. A reheated mess of other, far smarter, action movies, The Traansporter Refueled hasn’t an original bone in its body (or carcuss, as the case may be). In a fleeting moment of quiet before the incomprehensible storm of horrid racism and absurd feats of superhuman nature takes hold, Loan Chabanol’s good-natured prostitute Anna asks Frank, “Do you know what it feels like to be thought of as trash?” One can only hope that the film does.
Nothing about The Transporter Refueled works. The acting is toe-curlingly stiff, the action forgettable and the story wholly derivative. It’s unwatchable nonsense for the best part of an hour, before the climactic action scene comes along, the writers surrender to their own stupidity and the film goes down the rabbit hole of so-bad-it’s-good. The comedic highlights include a battle-axe fight ending in the expert positioning of a life preserver, preceding a subtitled proclamation of “You jerk!”. Three people wrote this film. Dozens of people read and, presumably, approved the screenplay. Thousands of people came together to turn the screenplay into a film. This critic paid $12 to see the result. What has life become?
The defining moment of this steaming pile of garbage is a gloriously idiotic stunt in which Frank jet skis from the ocean onto land, before jumping from said jet ski into a car window. It would be comic genius if it weren’t so portentous. Nobody wanted to make this film; nobody wanted to see it. It was made solely to balance a spreadsheet. On that basis, it’s hard to begrudge the creators for delivering such a singularly stupid film as The Transporter Refueled.
Nobody wanted to make this film; nobody wanted to see it. It was made solely to balance a spreadsheet. On that basis, it’s hard to begrudge the creators for delivering such a singularly stupid film as The Transporter Refueled.