I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.
Jared McMillan // Film Critic
Being a fan of cinema, let alone someone who critiques it, you tend to watch your fair share of film from all types of genres. It requires some sort of compartmentalization to look for varying characteristics that make these films belong to a category. All of this breaking down of a film can grow somewhat monotonous, so there needs to be some sort of a palette cleanser; that’s where the popcorn movie comes into play. A movie that’s just there to entertain me, to the point where I can just turn off my brain and enjoy the ride.
THE TRANSPORTER, starring Jason Statham, is such a film. One of those where if it’s on when I change the channel, I’ll leave it because I know what I’ll get from it: pure entertainment. However, the other parts of the franchise just seemed watered down or rehashed. The second and third installments? Boring. The TV show? Never had any interest in seeing it. The studio knew it had gotten stale, so they went for the reboot. Here we are with THE TRANSPORTER REFUELED, a better attempt to capture the same action of the first movie, but comes up just short of being as good.
The movie opens with a sequence in 1995, where a vicious crime boss named Karasov (Radivoje Bukvic) guns down pimps to take over the French Riviera turf. He drops his own girls off on the corner, and the audience is introduced to Anna (Loan Chabanol). Flash forward to 15 years later (yes, I know that only makes it 2010 for some reason), and she, along with three other Karasov girls, want out. Meanwhile, transporter Frank Martin (this time played by Ed Skrein) is reuniting with his dad (Ray Stevenson) who has retired from being an “Evian salesman”. He gets a call from Anna for a job to escort her and two packages. Upon starting the job, he discovers the two packages are two of her cohorts, Gina (Gabriella Wright) and Qiao (Wenxia Yu); they are all wearing the same disguise, causing Frank to want to back out of the deal. The ladies reveal that they have kidnapped his dad, so he must do their bidding. The plot is set, and the action gets rolling.
I went in hoping for some B-movie action set pieces, and THE TRANSPORTER REFUELED does not disappoint. After picking up the girls, Frank is chased through the city by the police; a sequence that is capped off by a fire hydrant stunt that is so absurd that I laughed out loud with joy. GIVE ME ALL OF THE CRACKERS TO GO WITH THIS CHEESE! Later, the femme fatales make him go to a nightclub so they can rob one of Karasov’s cohorts, and the robbery is intercut with Frank fighting off a group of employees in the movie’s best fight scene. That’s followed up by another imaginative fight scene involving the car being in neutral, and that’s all I’ll give away. Another B-movie element is that Frank doesn’t use guns, so he uses everything from a fire extinguisher to a life saver to ward off the bad guys. Also, Karasov operates on a SUPER YACHT! This is what I’m talking about, this is why I came to see this movie.
However, there is a glaring issue with the movie, and that is the fact that it welcomes inconsistency. The editing is constantly frenetic, which is fine, but not when it destroys continuity. For instance, don’t show two at the bottom of a cliff, cut to a woman in the car, and then cut back to the same two guys on top of the cliff. The real inconsistencies lie within the characters, though, especially the women. If you spent your life enslaved in prostitution, coming up with an elaborate heist in order to escape, would you then immediately throw yourselves at two men as a reward? That’s a gigantic nope. It strips away the credibility of these women being strong and not wanting to be sexual favors any more. One minute they’re calculating, the next minute they’re lusting after Frank and his dad? It’s painfully egregious. Also, Frank still has his “3 rules” (The deal is as is; no names; no questions), but doesn’t really hold to them. It would have made for a better movie to let Frank keep his convictions; this constant fluctuation just waters down his character.
Is THE TRANSPORTER REFUELED entertaining? I would say it is, more often than it is not. The movie is meant to be a guy’s guy movie, sure. But, betraying the characters in order to achieve this label is where I have a problem. You can’t have a woman get shot, and, immediately after treating her wound, have her involved in a menage-a-trois. In order to be mindless entertainment, you can’t have me thinking you were this mindless in writing the film’s protagonists. I wanted a cheesy B-movie, but instead I got a disappointing C-movie.
THE TRANSPORTER REFUELED opens tonight in participating theaters and everywhere tomorrow.