2015 / Director. Camille Delamarre.
Review by Shaun Crawford.
We didn't ask for it but we got it anyway. In an era of endless reboots, remakes, reimaginings, retoolings and restarts, it's no surprise that Frenchy Fantastique Luc Besson has given us another instalment of his bizarrely popular TRANSPORTER series which started back in 2002.
Following a largely unknown tv reboot he has opted to jump back to the big screen and dispose of the square-jawed pomme Jason Statham in lieu of pretty-boy pomme Ed Skrein to play Frank Martin, the titular Transporter, a high-end, ex-military, special-ops mercenary living in France who specializes in, well, transporting stuff; packages, people, whatevs.
A leisurely visit from Frank's father (Ray Stevenson) turns catastrophic when Frank is hired by Anna (Loan Chabanol), and her posse to help orchestrate a rather elaborate bank robbery. Throw in a Russian gangster, a coupla car chases and women in lingerie and you have yourself another eurotrash thriller from the makers of other eurotrash thrillers like Taken and From Paris With Love.
Corey Yuen's original Transporter was daft; an uneasy mix of action and humour that looked the biz but was as hollow as an Easter egg. Louis Letterier's sequel was even moreso then came Oliver Megaton's threequel which was one of the worst films of the year.
On paper, then, rebooting the series probably sounded like a good idea and, as is the unrelenting trend, Besson & Co. have opted for a darker approach. Gone are the laughs (at least the intentional ones) which have been replaced by a grittier tone and a gloomier palette. The sun-soaked french vistas have been replaced by rain-slicked streets and neon-lit nightclubs. The hokey play-it-for-laughs direction has been rerouted, the classification on the poster has taken a leap and the violence has got a bit more crimson.
The question is, is it worth it? - Certainly the tone fits better with the theme and the action is a bit more bone-crunching but the biggest problem isn't the aesthetic, it's just about everything else. Skrein just isn't a Statham. It's easy to dismiss Statham as just another meat-head but his one-dimensional charm is sorely missing here. Skrein is so baby-faced and slight it's hard to buy him as anything other than a prep-school frat-boy let alone a globe-trotting mercenary. There must have been some very real on-set concerns the crew would trip up on his umbilical cord. Even the usually reliable Ray Stevenson phones it in an is completely miscast as the playboy father. An action-man in his own right (See the underrated Punisher: Warzone and Outpost) he's brittle and stiff here toying with women and going for gags.
If there is a highlight its the peppering of action sequences, but even then a 90min action sequence a good film not make. In the end one cat help but think 'just because you make 'em Besson, doesn't mean we have to like 'em'.