Recently, a series continued without it’s main star. Honestly, after the ridiculousness of The Transporter (2002), I didn’t really give it another thought. After all, if it could be that bad starring Jason Statham, how good could it be with a newcomer like Ed Skrein? Still, when I came across The Transporter Refueled on Amazon Prime, I figured I’d give it a shot. Had I not given this new film a fair shake? Or was it as bad as I was expecting?
Ed Skrein isn’t actually a bad replacement for Jason Statham in The Transporter Refueled. After Statham’s cheesy lines in The Transporter (2002), and the film’s inclination to relegate him to nothing more than the dumb muscle, that’s honestly not as hard to do as expected. Skrein takes over the role, and while he doesn’t quite have Statham’s presence on-screen, he fits the dumb muscle requirement nicely enough.
Ray Stevenson (Punisher: War Zone (2008)) is actually refreshing as Skrein’s father, Frank Martin Sr. While he has to deal with ridiculousness as well, he seems to take it in stride, and plays up the unshakeable retired spy angle quite well. He’s witty, he’s cool under pressure, and suave – and quite believable as Frank Martin Jr.’s dad.
The rest of the cast in The Transporter Refueled is a joke. Whether it’s the interchangeable foursome of femme fatales, or the stereotypical sleazy bad guys, the rest of the cast seems to merely be bits of scenery for Skrein and Stevenson to play off of. Sadly, Francois Berleand’s laid back inspector is also absent in this film, and the friend/foe relationship he had with Frank is sorely missed.
The plot, as with most cheesy actioneers, shouldn’t be looked at too deeply, or viewers will easily be able to spot all sorts of plot holes. Even at quick glance, the idea of an ex-spy being so easily kidnapped time and time again – usually without any fight at all – is glaringly ridiculous, as is Frank Martin Jr.’s ridiculous acceptance of this fact. It’s like it happens all the time, and Jr. has just gotten used to it by this point.
Of course, the plot just gets worse from there, but at least there’s a few decent action sequences along the way to pass the time in The Transporter Refueled. While none have the ingenuity of some of the sequences from THE TRANSPORTER, they aren’t half bad, and a roving fight in front of a slowly rolling car is a highlight.
While the action sequences don’t seem as innovative, and the plot is ridiculous – not to mention most of the cast being just background scenery – The Transporter Refueled actually seems like a film that fits in with the rest of the series. While Statham has been replaced, and Francois Berleand is missed, Skrein isn’t half bad as a replacement, and Ray Stevenson adds a bit of suave fun to the film. Sure, it’s not a great film – but it’s not quite as bad as The Transporter (2002), either.