A few years ago I interview Patton Oswalt for YOUNG ADULT, and during the chat I asked him to expand on something that he had said with which I totally agreed: Jason Statham makes any movie better. (Click here for the interview and my mini-rant about how unfair it was that Oswalt didn’t get an Oscar nomination for his role in that film).
But I digress.
I was put in mind of that conversation while watching THE TRANPORTER: REFUELD, a film that does little more than prove Oswalt’s point about Statham while irritating the high heckola out of fans of the original. Don’t get me wrong. Those films were never high art, but they were fun and slickly well done in all their popcorn flick glory, with Statham’s cool intensity helping us over the more ridiculous aspects of the plots. Ed Skrein, as the current incarnation of Frank, has the same cool, and even a vague resemblance to Statham, but none of Statham’s air of barely contained brute force, even as Skrein successfully fends off a thug with a battle axe.
This Frank has the same rules, as in no names, no changing the rules, and no being late. He also has a father, played by Ray Stevenson, whose shaggy raffishness is far and away the best thing in the film. Dad is all set to retire from his cover job selling bottled water in the world’s hot spots (wink wink, nudge nudge, he was really a spy) when he is kidnapped by a gaggle of nubile beauties out for revenge on the man who forced them into prostitution. Their plan involves using Frank as the driver, and that’s really all you need to know. The rest is a perfunctory string of capers in which the ladies wear identical mediocre blonde wigs, trashy mini-dresses, and spike heels unsuited to the tasks at hand. Frank speeds them where the need to be, and where they need to be away from, strewing vehicular carnage in his wake as the ladies squeal in terror. Frank also brutalizes innocent bystanders, creates his own speedways in public buildings, and destroys a cargo of luggage that was nto hurting anyone.
Naturally he falls for the revenge ringleader, Loan Chabanol, and theirs becomes a complicated yet hormonal relationship. Naturally there are double- and triple-crosses. Naturally, there is no situation so dire that there isn’t time to pop into a hot tub while it’s going on and have a bikini-clad woman gyrate with abandon.
There is nothing original here amid the tangle of inept henchmen, stilted fight scenes. Moreover, the south of France, where the story is set, is far too amiable a place as depicted here, turning a blind eye to pimps beings shot down on crowded streets, and good Samaritans being tasered in broad daylight on quaint side streets. There is more intrigue in one of Stevenson’s winks than in the entire plot, though, to be fair, Skrein does a good job of staying unrumpled in even the most violent tussles.
This is the part of a review where I would be tempted to make a pun on THE TRANSPORTER: REFUELED, but, honestly, it’s such a yawn of a film that it’s not worth the effort.