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Movie Review: Transporter Refueled

Frank Martin sports a new make and model in Transporter Refueled. Image used from

Frank Martin sports a new make and model in Transporter Refueled. Image used from

During the past few years the quality of Luc Besson’s films have been on a swift decline. Once a filmmaker who crafted engaging stories and excellent action scenes now churns out films with bad stories, poorly written characters, rampant misogyny and abysmal cinematography. His work has gotten so bad that I’ve found no reason to see his work as often anymore. To end the summer, Besson has resurrected one of his more popular franchises, The Transporter, in a prequel that lacks it’s major star Jason Statham and somehow takes place nine years after the events of the first film. Is this newest revitalization a success, or like Besson’s filmmaking, has it run completely out of fuel?


The story for Transporter Refueled falls flat.

Recently human trafficking has become a popular motive for villains in action films and why shouldn’t it? it’s a horrifying and disgusting business that treats humans like objects. In the right hands this concept can truly relay a feeling of horror and dread but that is not the case with Transporter Refueled and it’s because of this concept that the story  comes off as weak. The Transporter films have always been in a silly little world of their own, a world where logic and physics have no bearing on anything. As such this attempt at such a serious issue fails as it tries senselessly to keep the film grounded while it still takes nothing seriously. The film fails to capture the horror of human trafficking as it does not show the atrocious things the villains are doing to living people while the characters treat what’s been done to them so non-nonchalantly. A scene where the main love interest explains how she was sold to a human trafficker by her own mother was not only so deprived of emotion and heart break but also reminded me of Skin Trade, an action film from earlier this year that also dealt with human trafficking. It had a similar scene but the betrayal and horror is conveyed so perfectly in that film as it takes it’s subject matter seriously. As for the rest of the story it’s very formulaic. Frank gets a job, Frank gets in trouble, Frank drives, Frank beats the living daylights out of everyone, film ends. Besson takes no risks nor does he let loose the wonderful over the top nature and insanity that these films are known for in his story and as such Refueled’s story has a bad gallon that doesn’t go far.


The characters are more engaging then the story but without their problems.

Frank Martin still manages to be the likeable hero he has been since the first film. A calm and cool character with morals and codes. he isn’t a difficult character to screw up. However, in this film Frank has another aspect to his character and that comes in the form of his father Frank Sr. Frank Sr. is a very charming and likeable character that works well as a sort of comedic foil to his son. Throughout the film he is shown to be calm and even caring to those who’ve wronged him which is nice but the problem is he ends up sleeping with most of the female characters. This does not sit well with me. It is unnecessary and it’s main purpose is Besson showing his misogyny. In the end it ruins what is a really good character and is nothing more then the perverted writing of a deluded old man.


Anna, the love interest and non-nonchalant human trafficking victim, is initially a very unlikeable character. Her overall plan and motives are admirable and noble as she’s trying to take down the human trafficking organization that’s held her prisoner for so long. However, her motives to bring Frank into her operation makes no sense and is largely pointless. For a while she’s unlikeable because of her unnecessary actions and overall gloating nature about it which makes her insufferable. Thankfully but the second act she does manage to get better and I eventually found myself getting over her confusingly antagonistic motivations.


Our antagonist for the film is Arkady Karasov and he’s just another link in a long chain of bad Besson villains. Karasov does nothing but bark orders and attempts to be menacing but it’s hard to fear him when he does less then nothing throughout the film and shakes in fear in the sight of men weaker then him. he also has a past history with Frank but it’s never really fleshed out as well as it should have been and a poor missed opportunity for the character.


The acting from the leads is very good but is forgettable from the supporting cast.

Ed Skrein replaces Jason Statham as Frank Martin and initially this worried me. Staham gave a very iconic performance, one that would be difficult to fill in for. It’s clear from Skrein’s performance that he’s trying his best at a Statham impersonation but somehow he manages to pull it off. Skrein gives a fine performance as Martin, managing to capture the calmness and coolness of the character. Statham’s presence is still missed but Skrein still manages to do a fine job.

Ray Stevenson does a fantastic job as Frank Sr. Stevenson is absolutely enjoyable and charming from start to finish but what makes him so good is his chemistry with Skrein. The two work off of each other so well that not only are their banters humorous but they give the illusion that their father and son which ends up making their characters more engaging and likeable.


The action for Transporter Refueled is flawed but entertaining.

The biggest problem I have with Besson’s recent films is how his action scenes are shot. Back in the day he had excellent fight scenes with great fight choreography and cinematography. They were so good and so realistic that I created the term “Feeling of impact” to describe a fight as good as one found in a Besson film. Sadly he has relied heavily on shaky cam and quick cuts which make his fights harder to follow and takes all the enjoyment out of them, being under the delusion that a hard to follow fight has “more energy” to it then one we can make out and enjoy. Sadly it’s still done here but thankfully not to them same abysmal effect as say Taken 2. While the editing and cinematography is choppy I still managed to make out most of the fight and what I saw was some well done fight choreography that was unique and fun. While Besson doesn’t go into more over the top territory there are still some creative fight scenes such as one that takes place in a confined environment with lots of drawers and lots of potential.  The car chases are also pretty fun and offer some pointless, but still entertaining, crashes and destruction.


Final Thoughts: Transporter Refueled easily has the weakest story of the bunch and has the writing and tropes that make Besson’s films so bad these days. However I still managed to find enjoyment in it all through the likeable main characters and wonderful leads who actually kept me invested throughout the film and the fun but flawed fight scenes. In the end I can only recommend Refueled for the most dedicated of Transporter fans who, even without Statham, will find a fun afternoon at the movies with it.


Verdict: 3/5



About the Author

Good day to you, my name is Jonathan Gonzalez. For years I've loved movies and have been reviewing them for years, ever since I first saw Roger Ebert on Ebert and Roeper during my freshman year of high school for the first time. I am a graduate of Mercy College with a Bachelor's in Journalism and I have Asperger's Syndrome, something I am truly proud of.

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