Movie Review: Transporter: Refueled

The state of the contemporary action genre is dire to say the least. Unless you are talking about the Raid series, John Wick, or Fury Road (which I am watching as I write this), new action movies have not the grit, intensity, or cool factor from those of the past. True action heroes like Rambo have been replaced with gravelly voiced antiheroes with more daddy issues than Shinji Ikari. The badassery of John Matrix has been exchanged for boring clean-cut professionalism. And the cold efficiency of Paul Kersey was dumbed down into superfluous fight scenes absent creativity.

The one to blame for this degradation is screenwriter Luc Besson. It started with The Professional, a film that tried too hard to be cool. Then came the original Transporter movies and Taken, putting the final nail in the coffin of ’80s action. Now all we have are films emulating the success of Besson, choking the market in banal monotony. Does Transporter: Refueled (TR) compound this trend or does it change the game?

Here is the short answer.

While on a routine job, Frank, played by Ed Skrein, finds there is more to the assignment when his employers kidnap his father Frank Senior, played by Ray Stevenson. Frank then becomes the reluctant participant in a complex scheme by a team of former prostitutes hell-bent on getting back at their pimp.

The whole time I was watching TR I was fighting to stay awake. I was so bored and unfazed I could have taken a nap and wrote this regardless of what I missed. As an action film about cars it is so restrained and ordinary in its stunts it feels like a movie made 20 years ago that sucks. Five minutes of Fury Road is more superior to TR’s entire hour-and-a-half.

A staple of Besson movies is the generic Eastern European villains and exotic women. In TR these characters’ accents are so thick the dubbing of their voices cannot keep up, making for awkward moments of incomprehensible dialog that does not match the actors’ lips. Maybe it is just my difficulty understanding the French accent, but if audiences cannot figure out what anyone is saying in your movie, maybe you were better off making the whole thing subtitled. The dialog was not even written well and there is so much of it I wished I brought earplugs. For 96 minutes you have to listen to bad-sounding actors say awful lines. Their phoned in performances could not save this terrible script. On top of that, why would you hire foreign actors, make your setting foreign, but have everyone speak a language that is not their own nor consistent with the setting?

TR was an editing nightmare. There are many quick cuts and different angles of the same shot lazily slapped together with no sense of cohesion. Everything is so fast and jerky it was difficult to follow, even as I struggled to keep my eyes open. It reflects poorly on the director as it implies he took footage from random places, shot with no hindsight of how the scenes were supposed to look, and cut it together in post-production like a reverse Terrence Malick.

I could go on but I see no point in continuing to explain why Transporter: Refueled is not worth anyone’s time. This movie was so monotonous I cannot find the energy to finish explaining why. Though not awful in general, it is a boring sit with no redeemable qualities. I do not think fans of the Transporter would even like it. If you want real action, look no further than classic Schwarzenegger, Bronson, Stallone, and Norris. As for me, I am going back to playing more MGSV.


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