The Transporter franchise is responsible for turning Jason Statham into a bonafide blockbuster action hero. The first trilogy wasn’t perfect, but Statham’s charisma and energy made the series something unique among the action genre. With Statham’s global rise over the years, Luc Besson and EuropaCorp have found a new driver with Ed Skrein. Frank Martin is the driving force behind the franchise, and Statham has left quite the big hole to fill.
Former military soldier Frank Martin (Skrein) now works as a professional driver for people who want their packages transported, no questions asked. There are only three rules; no names, no questioning what the “package” is, and no changing the deal. Frank’s latest deal with the seductive Anna (Loan Chabanol) will end up breaking all three rules when she kidnaps his dad and forces him to drive her and her two partners around as they enact their revenge plot against their boss/crime lord.
The good news is that Frank Martin is the highlight of The Transporter Refueled. The bad news is that it’s not Ed Skrein. Ray Stevenson stars as Frank Martin Sr. and despite him being in captivity for the entire film, he’s the most entertaining aspect of the film. Stevenson carries this bravado and carefree attitude that Skrein just doesn’t have. It’s actually a bit strange how nonchalant he is about being kidnapped, but Stevenson makes it work.
Skrein isn’t horrible as the new Frank Martin, but he’s no Jason Statham. He’s an adequate replacement and handles the action scenes well, but when struggles when it comes to the atrocious plot. With Statham it was easy to overlook the earlier trilogy’s plot holes. Unfortunately that isn’t the case with Refueled. The story is about as ridiculous as the action. One scene has the father and son duo patching up one of their captors who has been shot with cobwebs and sugar. If that wasn’t ridiculous enough, she’s seen hours later scuba diving as part of their revenge plot. The story even recycles its own plotlines, resulting in Frank Martin Sr. being kidnapped twice. It’s absolutely laughable.
The action scenes themselves are actually fairly decent. My favorite scene of the movie has Frank and the trio of femme fatales infiltrating a club. There’s a cool fight scene between Frank and some bouncers that features some great camera work and environments. It also features the most insane instance of ghost riding you can imagine as Frank puts his car in neutral and gets out to beat a bunch of bad guys to a bloody pulp while his car slowly lurches forward. It’s pretty awesome.
The Transporter Refueled does manage to have some cool action scenes, but they’re not enough to make up for its lackluster story. When all's said and done, it’s just another generic action movie. Jason Statham was the heart of the franchise, and Refueled makes it painfully obvious.