The Transporter Refueled movie full length review - "The Transporter: Refueled" ups the octane from the last film, but still seems low on gas.
When you refuel your vehicle at a gas station, you generally have a choice of three types of gasoline with varying levels of octane: 87, 89 and 92 or 93.
Octane is a chemical compound that helps engines run smoother ? if they have a problem with "knocking" or "pinging". When the 2002 French film "The Transporter" hit theaters, it wasn't especially well-received by critics, but it was a hit with audiences all around the world. Two sequels followed (in 2005 and 2008), but each one received lower average ratings from critics and audiences that the film before. The franchise was definitely knocking and pinging ? and, as the title of the fourth film in the series seems to admit, was out of gas. The question is whether "The Transporter: Refueled" (PG-13, 1:36) has enough gas (of sufficient octane) to entertain audiences.
The series' fourth installment is a reboot of the franchise (and the beginning of a prequel trilogy). The character of Frank Martin (played in the first three films by Jason Statham, who became a popular action movie actor because of the role) is now inhabited by British rapper, actor and recent TV pitch man Ed Skrein. Although playing a younger version of Frank Martin (the title character), he's seen from the beginning of the film as the same kind of man as in the previous three films. He's a clever and skilled driver, he has his three (supposedly) unbreakable rules already in place: No Names, No Questions and No Changing the Deal. That last one includes being punctual. Young Frank is still working on that one.
The story centers on a group of young women who are forced by Russian gangsters to sell their bodies on the French Riviera. After fifteen years of this, four of the women (Loan Chabanol, Gabriella Wright, Tatiana Pajkovic and Wenxia Liu) are enacting a plan to reclaim their lives and get some revenge against the men (Radivoje Bukvic, Yuri Kolokolnikov and Lenn Kudrjawizki) who have kept them enslaved all that time. To pull off their plan, they need the help of "the best in the business". Anna (Chabanol), the leader of the four, pays Frank his usual fee, but to ensure his cooperation, they take his father, Frank Sr. (Ray Stevenson) hostage. As the women move forward with their plan, they only tell Frank what he needs to know when he needs to know it, which makes Frank frustrated and places all parties in greater danger, but also entertains the audience ? mostly.
The movie re-uses some of the ideas that fueled the previous "Transporter" films, including making the story personal by focusing on the pursuit of justice in the midst of all the car chases and plot twists. Plus, in this story (co-written by Luc Besson, who co-wrote the first three with Robert Mark Kamen) gives us a little more background on Frank and establishes a connection between him and the Russian gangsters, but tells us next to nothing about the women whom Frank is helping. That may be because the questionable acting skills of these four actresses don't deserve any more screen time than they already have. Skrein also comes off as a little too young and small to already be so good at what he does ? and be so effective at kicking bad guy ass. The only character in this movie with sufficient gravitas to play his role is Stevenson, but he is given some silly lines and even sillier direction (from Camille Delamarre, who edited "Transporter 3" but is directing one of these films for the first time).
Of course, audiences who come to these movies are more concerned with the action than the acting and, on that level, the film does pretty well. There are some great moments of action and a couple cool fight scenes, but action-packed, this movie is not. The story is decent, unravels nicely and does a pretty good job at keeping us guessing about who's doing what and why. In short, "The Transporter: Refueled" eliminates some of that knocking and pinging by upping the octane, but, with this cast and these filmmakers, probably doesn't have enough gas to make it through two more episodes. "B"