Trans­porter Re­fu­eled A Cin­e­matic Bumpy Ride

Escalon Times - - PERSPECTIVE - FRANK SCHECK The Hol­ly­wood Re­porter

LOS AN­GE­LES (AP) — If noth­ing else, this re­boot of the Trans­porter fran­chise should do won­ders for Audi sales, not to men­tion car safety. Ev­ery pas­sen­ger who sets foot in the tricked-out, gleam­ing Ger­man au­to­mo­bile driven by the tit­u­lar char­ac­ter is im­me­di­ately or­dered to fas­ten their seat belt. It’s sound ad­vice, be­cause “The Trans­porter Re­fu­eled” is a cin­e­matic bumpy ride.

Ar­riv­ing seven years af­ter the fi­nal in­stall­ment of the tril­ogy orig­i­nally star­ring Jason Statham, this latest ver­sion, in­ex­pli­ca­bly set in 2010, fea­tures a younger, slighter Frank Martin as played by Ed Skrein (“Game of Thrones”). It’s a real di­min­ish­ment, and not just in phys­i­cal terms. Skrein moves well and has the req­ui­site model-ready good looks, beau­ti­fully cared­for stub­ble and gruff, rum­bling voice that make him machismo per­son­i­fied. But com­pared to his pre­de­ces­sor, he’s se­ri­ously lack­ing in charisma, and his re­lent­lessly mo­not­o­nous per­for­mance fails to rev up the film’s en­gine.

For­tu­nately, Ray Steven­son is on hand to pro­vide some nec­es­sary energy to the pro­ceed­ings. The ac­tor is clearly hav­ing a good time play­ing Frank’s dad — he per­sis­tently ad­dresses his son as “Ju­nior” — a rak­ish Evian sales rep who’s not so se­cretly a gov­ern­ment agent. Un­for­tu­nately, the char­ac­ter’s spy skills se­ri­ously leave some­thing to be de­sired, as the plot hinges on his get­ting kid­napped not once but twice in the course of 24 hours.

Speak­ing of plot, what lit­tle there is has some­thing to do with Frank be­ing hired by gor­geous femme fa­tale Anna (Loan Cha­banol) and her trio of sim­i­larly beau­ti­ful, blon­dewigged ac­com­plices. When they re­veal that they are hold­ing his fa­ther pris­oner and have given him poi­son that will kill him within 12 hours, Frank is co­erced into help­ing them get re­venge on the Rus­sian hu­man traf­ficker who forced them into pros­ti­tu­tion 15 years ear­lier.

But that’s all a mere ex­cuse for a re­lent­less se­ries of ac­tion set pieces in which Frank demon­strates that he’s as skilled in mixed mar­tial arts as he is at high-speed driv­ing through the nar­row streets of the French Riviera with­out run­ning over any in­no­cent by­standers. A man with a strict moral code, he doesn’t carry a gun, forc­ing him to use a wide va­ri­ety of ob­jects-at-hand to dis­patch a seem­ingly end­less se­ries of op­po­nents, some­how man­ag­ing to never muss up his per­fectly tai­lored suit in the process.

Di­rec­tor Camille De­la­marre (“Brick Man­sions”) and his col­lab­o­ra­tors have de­vised a few nifty se­quences, in­clud­ing a Jackie Chanstyle fight scene in which Frank uses an ar­ray of file cab­i­net draw­ers to dis­patch his op­po­nents, and a car’s fly­ing leap into an air­port ter­mi­nal through which it pro­ceeds to wreak ve­hic­u­lar havoc. But un­like the sim­i­larly high-oc­tane stunts in “Mis­sion: Im­pos­si­ble — Rogue Na­tion,” most of the ones ren­dered here are so car­toon­ish and di­vorced from re­al­ity that they in­duce more laughs than gasps.

Speak­ing of laughs, there are more than a few in such scenes as when one of the women gets shot in the stom­ach, prompt­ing emer­gency surgery us­ing spi­der webs as a co­ag­u­lant. But not to worry, she’s feel­ing fine the next morn­ing. It’s yet one more ex­am­ple of how The Trans­porter Re­fu­eled is run­ning on cheap gas.

“The Trans­porter Re­fu­eled,” a Europa Corp. re­lease, is rated PG-13 by the Mo­tion Pic­ture As­so­ci­a­tion of Amer­ica for “se­quences of vi­o­lence and ac­tion, sex­ual ma­te­rial, some lan­guage, a drug ref­er­ence and the­matic el­e­ments.” Run­ning time: 96 min­utes.

Photos con­trib­uted

Still of Ed Skrein in The Trans­porter Re­fu­eled (2015)

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