If you’re looking to make hay with the latest version of The Transporter, then letting loose over an extra-large popcorn provides all the refueling needed to pay up for a summer time reboot. But Hollywood knowing that, the chances that they’ll leave you sputtering the fourth time around are pretty good. This especially since the second or third time wasn’t the charm either.
Ed Skrein (Game of Thrones) replaces Jason Statham as the man who delivers the package and pledges to never look inside. The other basics also apply for this Frank Martin—no names and the deal doesn’t change Of course, all is done while looking damn good doing it and in a car that seems poised to defy the laws of physics.
The similarities to the original end there. Despite the 2002 feature being a bit light on plot, the characters were compelling enough to stick with the story, roll with the action, and be moderately uplifted by the mismatched romance and Statham’s reluctant humor.
Characters Made of Wood
In this attempt by Director Camille Delamarre, the viewer cares so little about the wooden characters that it’s hard to care if they actually survive the contrived car chases.
Pretty remarkable, given that the heroines in Frank’s transit are seeking revenge against their human trafficking overlords. Of course, getting payback requires strong female characters who are efficient, equally as ruthless and stacked with plenty of brains on top of their good looks.
Watching Angelina Jolie wield weaponry and strut her stuff in thrillers like Salt or Wanted evokes such a sense without uttering a word. But watching this quartet of avenging angels move through the French Riviera and among stereotypical bad guys makes you wonder if they could navigate midtown during rush hour.
Frank Forced to Pick Up the Package
Nonetheless, Anna (Loan Chabanol) and her compatriots (Gabriella Wright, Tatiana Pajkovic, Wenxia Yu) enlist Frank, and the deal seems to involve delivering two packages. But once they are ready to put Frank into action, the girls quickly alter the deal and get the Transporter to go along by kidnapping his father.
As a result, Frank is forced to take part in a series of innovative robberies against the traffickers. Thus causing disarray, the intent is that the vile offenders will be emasculated enough to completely forget how they established a global criminal endeavor. The loose confederation of bad guys would then succumb to finger pointing and turn the guns on each other. This would finally allow female syndicate to reclaim their lost innocence.
I Stick My Neck Out for No One
But here the basic premise of the series doesn’t get the unraveling that makes the character so appealing. Like a Boogie in Casablanca or host of other like-minded movie characters, Frank’s jaded idealism causes him to delve back and forth between the legal and illegal—and eventually—his good intentions get the better of him.
Frank can’t help but look inside the package, and stick his neck out.
Unfortunately, The Transporter never really makes that journey. He’s mostly operating to save his father, and the clumsy way the film tries to force the formula on you at the end, doesn’t fly.
Romance Is in the Air?
The filmmakers take the same liberty in regards to the attraction that must emerge and effectively moves the plot along in the original. Long, sleek legs at the ready, Anna’s leer as the deal is arranged tells us that she knows what’s under the hood long before Frank takes his shirt off.
But not even Cary Grant could get a girl to so obviously tip her hand. It shouldn’t be a shock then that no real depth emerges in the relationship, and ending up in bed together amounts to nothing more than a glorified hook up.
Looks Good on Paper
However, the screenplay does have some highlights. Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, and Luc Besson had to feel pretty good about how some of the dialogue looked on paper. A number of funny lines for The Game of Thrones actor to shine, Skrein just does not deliver them.
This in stark contrast to his predecessor, Skrein’s costars aren’t any better —save Ray Stevenson in the father role.
The chase scenes do not come to the rescue either. The filmmakers visualized and mapped out the car sequences using 3D computer generation, but claimed to avoid using too much CGI. Even so, the chases seem cartoonish. They can’t help but make you think that there’s a lot of pixel activity superposed over a slow driving Audi S8.
The fight sequences also looked off. You feel too close to the action. So there's not enough room to get a full picture of the bare knuckles and pipes.
In the end, this Transporter might have again been able to survive a sketchy plot, and the less effective action if the actors had actually shown up. Thus, another sequel is squarely left up to whether the production comes in with more than ethanol in the tank. That’s primarily because three strikes usually is the charm that gets fans to finally put down the popcorn.