*. The Transporter Refueled was panned pretty roundly by critics and audiences when it came out, for what I think were predictable reasons. The main complaint was that without Jason Statham as Frank Martin all that was left was a brainless action film with lots of car chases and fist fights.
*. I take a more charitable view, in large part because out of the original trilogy I only thought Transporter 2 was any good. For example, is this movie stupid? Hell, yes. As stupid as Transporter 3? No. In fact, if I were to rate them just on watchability I’d rank this entry only just behind the second film.
*. I get it. Ed Skrein is no Jason Statham. But he isn’t bad. He doesn’t have the same charm, which translates into star power, but I think he holds his own, even with his throaty delivery and inability to smile. He also keeps his shirt on. The action scenes were better handled than in the previous instalment, and while silly not quite as silly as I’d gotten used to.
*. I was confused as to why they would want to change stars but keep the same character. Why not make Skrein into Statham’s nephew? Instead, I believe this movie was intended to be a prequel, which I’m not sure makes sense given the cars and other technology that’s being used. I mean, if this is a prequel then we’re in the ’90s aren’t we? But according to the dates we’re given this is 2010. Or was this Frank supposed to be the son of Jason Statham’s Frank, a character now played by Ray Stevenson? I couldn’t be sure.
*. The plot is, indeed, very stupid. Basically Frank is hired (and/or forced) to help a bunch of prostitutes get revenge on the Russian pimp who is running them. This they do in fashionable style. It’s a movie full of clichéd fashion notes. The girls wear blonde wigs and dress in haute couture (not looking suspicious at all!) while robbing a bank. The bad guys live the gangster lifestyle. And you know what that means, don’t you, playboy? Yachts, private jets, hot tubs, alcohol, and strippers shaking their booty in your face all day and all night.
*. As I said, however, I thought the action at least as well handled as in the previous movie. There’s an overfondness for throwing in lots of aerial drone shots that I thought were unnecessary, but if you have a climax on a mountain top what else are you going to do? I didn’t buy any of the stunts, but I didn’t in the earlier movies either. I just found myself wondering how often Frank has to replace his tires. He burns a lot of rubber.
*. In sum, switching to a new star in a franchise that was purely a star vehicle is not an easy maneuver to pull off. I thought they did fine here, but then I wasn’t a big fan of the franchise in the first place. But I’ll go so far as to say that I’d watch another Transporter if it comes to that. And it very well might.