Take a Drink: whenever Frank gets double crossed.
Do a Shot: for every Luc Besson cliché.
Do a Shot: for every new way Frank dispatches bad guys.
Take a Drink: for each instance of product placement.
Sip Your Drink: for every shot of Frank’s hilarious “concentration face.”
By: Hawk Ripjaw (Three Beers) –
Would you believe me if I told you another Luc Besson movie featured evil Russian human traffickers? The Transporter Refueled opens with these kingpins taking over the prostitution market in the French Riviera as Anna (Loan Chabanol) tearfully looks on. Five years later, in 2010 for some reason, Anna is hell-bent on revenge and the world’s biggest fan of The Three Musketeers as she brings in three other prostitutes to take down the pimps by stealing their money. Meanwhile, Frank Martin (Ed Skrein) is tooling around town with his dad (Ray Stevenson) before getting hired by Anna and the girls to be their getaway driver. “Hired” being “they kidnap Dad and force Frank to help them.” To save his dad, Frank drives fast, punches almost everyone he encounters, and stares intensely at everyone else.
Refueled doesn’t just enjoy its own stupidity; it bathes in it. Almost nothing in the film suggests that anyone set out to make a serious movie, but instead wanted to get as ridiculous as possible and have a blast doing so. There’s a fight with medieval weapons and a life preserver. A nightclub’s fog machine is replaced with medical anesthetic gas to knock everyone out. After switching cars, Frank self-destructs the old one with the touch of a button, the tosses the remote into a trashcan which then also self-destructs. It’s gleefully idiotic.
Director Camille Delemarre feels like a kid playing with his toys in this movie, destroying countless police cars and throwing random obstacles in the path of the chase. It’s all modestly well-done, too: Olivier Megaton’s joyless, chaotic direction made The Transporter 3 legitimately terrible, but Delemarre actually makes things relatively coherent with some very fun action both physical and vehicular.
One thing that can’t be forgiven, however, is Luc Besson’s writing. Over numerous films the filmmaker has shown a clumsiness for dialogue and scripting that’s gone past being trashily amusing and careened straight into embarrassing. While far from his worst work, Refueled is certainly not exempt from Besson’s rank ideas of quality writing. From the hamfisted references to The Three Musketeers to Frank Sr.’s calling Frank “Junior” a la The Last Crusade, everything about Refueled script-wise is a forgettable mess. I’m hard pressed to remember a single line of dialogue from the entire film, save for a running joke about being late.
Jason Statham exudes charm in nearly all of his roles, especially as the original Transporter with his deadpan wit and consistent annoyance at having to fight. It’s something that his replacement Ed Skrein doesn’t even come close to replicating. Skrein as Frank Martin is almost comically serious and instantly forgettable save for his absurd look of concentration with his head tilted forward and brow furrowed. Loan Chabanol is my newest crush for being insanely beautiful, but she’s given little to do by the script and never does anything that rises above soap opera-level emoting.
The Transporter: Refueled is not a good movie. But the more I try to bring up the objectively negative elements of the movie, the more I come up short. It’s fun where it counts and sucks where you can just laugh at it. It’s rough around the edges, predictable, and will probably be forgotten by year’s end, but it’s a ride worth taking if enthusiastically absurd action is your brand of guilty pleasure.