Film: “The Transporter Refueled”; Cast: Ed Skrein, Ray Stevenson, Loan Chabanol, Noemie Lenoir, Gabriella Wright, Tatjana Pajkovic, Wenxia Yu, Radivoje Bukvic, Lenn Kudrjawizki and Anatole Taubman; Director: Camille Delamarre; Rating: **
Laced with revenge, romance and father-son bonding, “The Transporter Refueled” is a sleekly presented gangster film. The fourth from “The Transporter” franchise, released seven years after its last installment.
Set in the French Riveira, the narration starts off with events of 1995 where the Russian Mafia takes over the underworld operations.
Fifteen years later, Frank (Ed Skrein), a clandestine courier operator reunites with his father Frank Sr (Ray Stevenson), an ex-sales representative who was also a secret government spy agent.
And while Frank continues transporting stuff around, he gets a call from the gorgeous Anna (Loan Chabanol), who hires him to help her crew of three similarly beautiful, blonde-wigged accomplices; Gina (Gabriella Wright), Maria (Tatiana Pajkovic) and Qiao (Wenxia Yu) to transport some consignment from a bank.
Little does he realise that he is being conned and coerced into their bigger scheme of things which include them seeking revenge on Arkady Karasov (Radivoje Bukvic), the Russian human trafficker who had forced them into prostitution.
Inadvertently, Frank Sr too gets involved in their ploy.
While this seems like a simple straight narration, the writers Bill Collage, Adam Cooper and Luc Besson, take a convoluted path. The wafer-thin plot-line, is made complex with scattershot logic and reckless action sequences, to keep the story moving.
Also, there is inconsistency in terms of characterisation and tone of the narration. The ladies shuttle from being strong, cold and calculating assassins to helpless seductresses randomly.
On the performance front, Ed Skrein with a stubble and a well-chiselled physique, as Frank Jr in this edition, does not match his predecessor, Jason Statham’s charisma. But nevertheless, he is machismo personified and makes his presence felt with ample action sequences and limited dialogues.
Ray Stevenson as Frank Sr, is dynamic, engaging and more entertaining than his son. Unfortunately, the writers seem to have messed this character so badly that his spy skills seriously leave something to be desired, as the plot hinges on him getting kidnapped not once but twice in the course of 24 hours.
The girls; Chabanol, Wright, Pajkovic and Wenxia Yu are all there for the femme fatale quotient. And the rest of the cast are perfunctory.
With excellent production values, the visuals are stylised and the action and stunt sequences remarkable.
Christophe Collette’s frames like the top angle shots along with Julien Rey’s razor-sharp, snappy and smooth edits; especially when Frank hits the guard with a gas cylinder and frame shifts to the interior of the discotheque, are worth noting.
Overall, the film is a visually brilliant, action-packed, but out-of-gas entertainer.