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The Transporter Refueled (1 star)

Lazy and offensive action reboot, with Ed Skrein taking over in the title role

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The Transporter Refuelled

The Transporter franchise could never be mistaken for cerebral cinema, but the first three films were something of a guilty pleasure thanks to the undeniable presence of Jason Statham in the lead role. Indeed, the biggest question hanging over this reboot was whether it could fly without 'the Stath', who has been replaced by rising British star Ed Skrein (Game of Thrones). As it transpires, however, the casting is the least of its problems.

The story, by Adam Cooper, Bill Collage and series co-creator Luc Besson, sees Skrein’s Frank Martin pulled into a job by Anna (Loan Chabanol), a life-long prostitute who, along with three of her friends, is looking to exact revenge on her vicious employer; so beginning a deluge of car chases, gun battles and fist fights choreographed to within an inch of their lives.

While no Transporter film could claim to have strong female characters, this instalment ramps up the machismo to overwhelming levels. Director Camille Delamarre (who previously edited Transporter 3 and Taken 2, and helmed Brick Mansions) sets out his stall with an unsubtle opening sequence in which a convoy of bad guys roll into the French Riviera, gun down the local mafia and trot out an entourage of scantily clad women from their blacked-out SUVs. And it goes rapidly downhill from there.

Every female on screen is a near-naked prostitute, forced to use their sexuality against a slew of men who are nothing more than caricatures themselves. Both Frank and his father (Ray Stevenson) – who is supposed to be an international man of mystery but comes across like a lecherous buffoon – indulge in intimate relations with the girls they are helping. While this presented as entirely reciprocal, it feels unpleasantly exploitative given their vulnerable situation. The camera, too, ogles the girls with the same cool, inhuman detachment it applies to Frank’s gleaming cars; that one of the women is shown indulging in a limb-flailing threesome mere hours after being shot in the abdomen speaks volumes about their value to this narrative.

Even leaving aside the rampant misogyny, the film has little to recommend it. Skrein tries hard but is no match for his predecessor, the action is contrived and repetitive, and the clunky dialogue so laden with cliché and exposition (despite tenuous references to Alexandre Dumas' The Three Musketeers) it’s like wading through treacle. All told, this is blunt, offensive filmmaking that should have no place in modern cinema.

General release from Fri 4 Sep.

The Transporter Refueled

  • 1 star
  • 2015
  • France
  • 96 min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Camille Delamarre
  • Written by: Bill Collage, Adam Cooper
  • Cast: Ed Skrein
  • UK release: 4 September 2015

Anna (Chabanol) recruits driver Frank (Skrein) as part of a plot to get revenge on her vicious employer. This leaden, rampantly misogynistic and unpleasantly exploitative reboot shows that the undeniable presence of 'the Stath' was about all this franchise had to recommend it; without him, it's blunt, offensive and…

Comments

1. Adrian Townsend13 Sep 2015, 2:42pm Report

Following the, quite frankly, disappointing Transporter 3 some 7 years ago, the franchise seemed to have run out of road. Same old tired fight scenes, same old car chases, same old Jason Statham forced to strip to the waist for the titillation of the women in the audience. Even Statham himself looked pretty bored with it all and seemed to be going through the motions to collect his payday at the end of it. Since then, we have seen a TV series emerge, with Chris Vance as a more suave 007 type Transporter, lacking Statham's rough diamond, cockney charm, but still posessing the driving and fighting ability to take down some of the underworld's most undesirables. Now, we have the reboot the film series needed, with Ed Skrein taking up the driving duties. Any fears that might be held about his ability to fill The Staths shoes are dispelled in the first few minutes of the fight in the underground car park, where a gang of thugs think they can take Frank's beloved Audi A8. Pleasingly, there is much different about the fight sequences and high octane car chases than were seen in the original trilogy. The story itself, about four prostitutes seeking revenge on their sadistic employer is stock and trade for the nature of the film series, maybe Frank should only deal with nice people! Fans will know what to expect, this is what escapism is all about. Refuelled, rebooted and resuited, The Transporter looks like it is back on the road and with Skrein, the character is in the best hands possible.

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