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Movie Night – 'Transporter Refueled' brings out new stunts (Sept. 16, 2015 issue)

Sequels, sequels, everywhere you look, sequels. It seems that there is very little originality left in Hollywood. Instead you’ll find mostly sequels, prequels, and re-boots. You can’t blame the bean counters of the film industry, moviegoers regularly open their wallets to sequel after sequel, preferring characters they already know and like to the unknown commodity of an original story. Still, you shouldn’t hold it against “The Transporter Refueled” that it’s the fourth film in the Transporter franchise.
On the French Riviera former special-forces soldier Frank Martin (Ed Skrein) is a mercenary transporting highly-questionable cargo for mostly unsavory clients in his Audi sedan. Among certain circles he is known as The Transporter. He doesn’t ask his clients for their names, he doesn’t want to know their names. Plausible deniability, he thinks.
On the same day that his dad, Frank Martin, Sr. (Ray Stevenson), retires from his job with Evian (a job that is actually an unconvincing cover for his real job as a spy for the British government), Frank receives a phone call from a mysterious woman (Loan Chabanol). She wants to meet Frank, hire him for a job. In particular, she wants Frank to transport her and two packages to be picked up in front of a bank in broad daylight.
Only the packages aren’t packages, they are two other women. In fact, all three women are dressed in matching black dresses and wearing matching blond wigs. And they appear to have robbed the bank and plan to use Frank as the getaway driver. Unwilling to cooperate in such a heist Frank orders them out of his car, until they show him a video of his captured father. That’s where the real action begins.
The girls have not only kidnapped Frank, Sr., but have poisoned him. They promise to give Frank the antidote only after he completes a few more tasks for them in their covert mission.
Ed Skrein is no Jason Statham. But that doesn’t stop him from making the character his own. He may not be the physical equivalent of Statham, but what he lacks in physical prowess (and it’s not much), he makes up for with a certain charm and charisma that was absent from the other Transporter films.
“The Transporter Refueled” is an action movie in the purest sense. There are car chases (though not as many as you would expect) to go along with fist fights and gun battles. The action is pretty much non-stop and time passes very quickly as the characters jump from one heist to another.
Obviously, all of the stunts and tricks aren’t possible in the real world. It’s an action movie, reality isn’t exactly a high priority. There are several stunts that are new to the genre, never before seen and executed well. The special effects were good enough that I couldn’t tell when they were using special effects.
Unlike the movie “Aloha” that was released earlier this year and set in Hawaii, the scenery of the French Riviera was stunning and the movie made good use of its surroundings. There’s really no better place to film car chases than on narrow roads near the sea.
“The Transporter Refueled” won’t set any new standards for action movies, but it was entertaining. And that’s the whole reason we go to the theater in the first place.
Grade: B+
Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, sexual material, some language, a drug reference and thematic elements.