Film and TV

Reviews For The Easily Distracted:
The Transporter Refueled

 The Transporter Refueled

Describe This Movie In One Simpsons Quote: "They didn't start chasing us until you turned on that getaway music!"

Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: One life preserver out of five.

Brief Plot Synopsis:
 L + R, down, down, right, up. FATALITY.

Tagline: "Don't ask questions."

Better Tagline: "The fast and the lugubrious"

Not So Brief Plot Synopsis:
Need a package delivered promptly but find yourself disagreeing with Amazon's employment practices? Frank Martin (Ed Skrein) is your man. The self-described Transporter will handle your job promptly and with discretion. These qualities are what draw Anna (Loan Chabanol) and her fellow call girls, who involve Martin in an allegedly elaborate plan to rob their "manager" Karasov (Radivoje Bukvi) blind. Complications arise when Martin's father Frank, Sr (Ray Stevenson) gets kidnapped and Karasov turns out to be personally procuring live octopi for Pope Francis' perversions and I'm just seeing if you're still paying attention.

"Critical" Analysis:  The Transporter Refueled is the first installment in a reported new trilogy of films. It's both a reboot and a prequel, with a much younger Frank Martin behind the wheel. This is now where I will appear to harp on trivialities in a movie where a car does a 360 in a roundabout and clips open the pumper outlets on four fire hydrants. Bear with me.

The movie opens in 1995, with Karasov establishing his strong pimp hand in the French Riviera by murdering the previous regime and installing his own girls. It's where we first meet a teenage Lana, turned out for the first time and unsurprisingly unenthusiastic about the situation. And then it's 15 years later (literally, the titles read, "Fifteen years later").  Math was never my strong suit, but 1995 + 15 = 2010, right?

I'll allow that the 2016 model Audi probably won't register with most people, but the iPhone 5s and LG tablets used throughout the movie weren't out until years later. Taken by itself, the anachronistic tech wouldn't be a big deal, but it's illustrative of the movie's larger problem: that nobody involved in this gives a shit about continuity, or plausibility, or anything

For example: why 1995? The year plays no role in the plot, but it was probably in a first draft somewhere and no one bothered to change it. Just like no one bothered to see if you can electronically transfer millions of dollars between bank accounts without verification, or steal tanks of chemicals from a hospital unchallenged, or somehow be out-acted by a supporting cast consisting of models and Miss World 2012.

Ed Skrein quit Game of Thrones to do the new Transporter trilogy. This was either a savvy preemptive move before he was unceremoniously fired, or extreme hubris befitting a man best described as a smirk in human form. Part of the reason we (mostly) forgave Jason Statham for this ridiculousness was, well, it was Statham. He earned our good will thanks to being in the two good(ish) Guy Ritchie movies and having a sense of humor about the ridiculous onscreen acts he performed. Skrein made a rap album nobody ever heard of and tried to sleep with the Khaleesi.

Anna's cunning plan involves hiring Martin, whom Karasov has already used, thus ensuring he'll put two and two together when he sees the inevitable CCTV footage. Even better, her coup de grĂ¢ce relies on every other bad guy in the movie coming to same mistaken conclusion at the same time and deciding on the same course of action. The original movies weren't exactly Kubrickian in their construction, but Refueled plays out like a 14-year old's Transporter fanfic. 

And let's talk about Ray Stevenson for a second. TTR only escapes being a no-star affair thanks to him. Frank, Sr. has more charisma in one of the bags under his eyes than Skrein does is his entire Crossfit-hewn frame. I wanted a movie that was nothing more than dad Martin dodging questions about his past, drinking vodka, and getting into situations over his head. Like a James Bond movie without the krav maga or supervillains.

The Transporter Refueled is longer (by 30 minutes or more) than any of the previous movies, which were already stretching our tolerance for vehicular tomfoolery. No Statham, no Inspector Tarconi, and no personality. Non merci.

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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar