Release Date: September 4, 2015
Director: Camille Delamarre
Writer: Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, Luc Besson
Cast: Ed Skrein, Ray Stevenson, Loan Chabanol, Gabriella Wright, Tatiana Pajkovic, Wenxia Yu, Radivoje Bukvic, Noemie Lenoir, Yuri Kolokolnikov, Lenn Kudrjawizki, Samir Guesmi, Anatole Taubman, Robbie Nock, Michael Morris, Nash Novcic, Jochen Hagele, Cedric Chevalme, Jerome Zybala, Stephane Moreno-Carpio, Laurent Ferraro, Jean-Baptiste Puech, Reginal Kudiwu
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 96 minutes
Production Company: EuropaCorp, TF1 Films Production, Fundamental Films, Belga Films, Canal+, Orange Cinema Series, TF1, Tele Monte Carlo, Cine+
Genre: Action, Crime, Thriller
Country: France, China, USA
Off the top of my head, it’s hard counting how many franchises make it to the fourth installment. I know there’s few, but it doesn’t happen that often. So when ‘Transporter Refueled’ was announced, I was curious, but soon lost interest learning Jason Statham wasn’t attached. That doesn’t mean a respectable film can’t be developed. Chances rise if expectations are set at a neutral height, so that’s how I approached this latest Transporter punch out. With a new Frank Martin (Ed Skrein), it’s without a doubt a stepdown, but if you realize the goal behind the scenes, and take the films self-acknowledgment, it may turn out better than previously anticipated.
A reason reluctance clouded my head stemmed from the man behind the camera. Director Camille Delamarre penned the horrific ‘Brick Mansions,’ which unfortunately portrayed one of the late Paul Walker’s last performances. If you didn’t see that film, I’m forever jealous of you. Fortunately, Delamarre’s second time up to bat was a vast improvement. What I noticed most was his style of direction. Containing average stunts of car chases, he was still able to capture the tension. The way he slowed down the impact was eye popping, and put the danger in perspective. He failed at giving a valid reason for the action, but it was still summer popcorn fun. At least two death-defying action scenes could’ve been avoided, but the common sense required never showed up on screen. Due to this lack of writing, the stakes faded in and out.
The sequel did have an interesting take with the characters, which I did admire. This addition was lost in the previous films, but this time put a highlight on the ride. Frank’s father, Frank Sr. (Ray Stevenson) is now part of the game his mysterious son played before. He’s a suave kind of guy, and has as much confidence as running water. It’s misplaced at times not matching with scenes, and at no point during his quest did he ever appear frightened. I never knew a man who reacted to a kidnapping as if it were a mere bee sting. At least fake it to trick the assailant with the gun. If the antagonists on screen aren’t buying the intensity dished out, we the audience will keep our money too. Other times his persona bounced back and forth, while still providing charisma. He also reminisced about the past which gave his son Frank more character detail.
Caring little about the story, all I wanted was decent action. Succeeding where part three failed it did that and more. It came in droves which tickled my fancy, but became too ridiculous to withstand overtime. The film is stretching too far when mayhem is picked over reason. Only having a few free passes of stupidity, the film used those up before halftime. I can’t ignore Frank deciding to leave a fueled car, to duke it out in an alley, instead of smashing the gas running over the enemy. The action stunts were fun, but illogical that made you laugh. All was nearly fine until the end, where one stunt was so physically, ridiculously, and mentally impossible, that I don’t think Superman, or The Flash could pull it off. I’ll just say the next time I see a jet ski, I’ll be pissed. Keeping the carnage down, we also received a formidable villain. With little effort, he painted the picture of a man not to be crossed. That only lasted for a while, as his empire soon started to fall. I asked myself how threatening can you be, to cater to such disbandment?
I can say on the surface, the plot is as predictable as the rising of the sun next day. Though once you dive in it takes a few twists and turns, that teases new thrills and creativity. I’m not asking for the next superhero that defies gravity. All I want is a kick ass driver with a new story. The effort was aimed to high which wasted a grand opportunity. It had a positive ending, but the realism flew out the door to a place too far away. If only the same cohesiveness towards the beginning was throughout, the film might have been a worthy successor. Instead it’s a prime example of a project that’s worked half assed.