‘Transporter’ series runs out of fuel


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“The Transporter Refueled” is a thriller which was released on September 4th.

Ethan Sapienza, Staff Writer

With its convoluted, generic action movie plot, Camille Delamarre’s “The Transporter Refueled” isn’t in demand, and it obviously doesn’t care. While a film like “Straight Outta Compton” touched on the United States’ glaring problems of police brutality and racism, “Refueled,” the fourth film in the “Transporter” franchise, should be granted the unsavory award of least relevant release of the summer, and what’s worse, it’s truly awful.

When creating such a superficial action film, it’s best to use an easily understandable or over the top plot as a vehicle for thrills. “Refueled” magically does neither, and instead chooses an idiotically nuanced heist-revenge tale that is both illogical and horribly presented. The film opens with a Russian fellow (Arkady Karasov) and his crew wildly gunning down a couple of goons, resulting in his declaration that he now controls prostitution in the French Riviera. After an embarrassingly long 40 minutes or so of meandering and Audi promotion, the plot is finally made clear: four prostitutes are looking to rob and ruin the kingpin, employing the transporter’s (Ed Skrein) help by kidnapping his father (Ray Stevenson). It’s as underwhelming and closed off as it sounds. For a movie so focused on driving, it’s amazing how the plot is littered with dead ends and
pointless drivel.

After losing grizzled star Jason Statham, the action series is hoping to reboot itself with Skrein, who is most recognizable for playing Daario Naharis in season three of HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” Skrein was tasteful and sexual in a supporting role on the fantasy drama, whispering lines meant to lure in the viewer. Now he sags in the lead role of driver/assassin Frank Martin. His acting is tedious, to the point where you can see him focusing on how to make his voice more gravelly. At points, his overstated masculinity and line delivery make for preposterously inaudible or indigestible dialogue, like twice uttering his pseudo-catchphrase, “I hate being late.” No kidding, Frank.

Skrein’s performance is exacerbated by the fact that Statham was just featured in Paul Feig’s underrated comedy, “Spy.” His role as secret agent Rick Ford is the best part of the comedy, where he essentially plays this ‘refueled’ Frank, though in “Spy” he’s fully aware of the hilarity of the character, while in “Refueled” he isn’t. Every other character is flat enough to be a cardboard cutout, as demonstrated by the tremendously vague backstories for the potentially inspiring prostitutes.

It’s with these roles where the film fails the most, and unforgivably so. “Refueled” could join the summer of female empowerment and make this quest for vengeance compelling and righteous, but chooses to objectify, undermine and shed no care for its leading women, including scenes that strictly feature a woman’s dancing behind and no other part of her.  They’re nameless, pretty faces who crumble in the presence of Frank and his father’s machismo. Coupled with uninspiring action, it’s clear that the film is little more than that: an anonymous, personality-free exercise in offensive filmmaking. “The Transporter Refueled” opened Friday in theaters nationwide.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Sept. 8 print edition. Email Ethan Sapienza at [email protected].