Monday, September 07, 2015

The Transporter Refueled

Guys, I've got a confession to make. I spend a lot of time grumbling about people who go to movies just to turn their brain off for a couple of hours and get upset with the rest of us who have expectations when we spend ten bucks for a couple hours of entertainment. There's almost always a better choice, I say, than just going for mediocrity.

And yet, I went to see The Transporter Refueled this afternoon.

Part of that was due to my moviegoing choices in the prior 24 hours - the first part of the Apu Trilogy at 4:15pm Saturday, followed by a 12.5-hour Heist Night overnight marathon at the Harvard Film Archive, where I saw what was an average of 3/4 of six pretty great movies, but came out pretty darn foggy. I zoned out for much of the morning, watched the ballgame, and then found myself not ready to go to bed but also feeling slow enough that trying to write, or organize the apartment, or take in the second part of that Apu Trilogy would have resulted in, let us say, an unsatisfying experience. So, with an early evening to fill, I went to that.

Which, I guess, is more a matter of already having your brain in standby mode and finding the right thing to occupy it than turning it off.

The Transporter Refueled

* * (out of four)
Seen 6 September 2015 in AMC Boston Common #17 (first-run, DCP)

The 2015 summer movie season didn't quite start with Mad Max: Fury Road, but third sequels to car chase-oriented movies that have a recast title character teaming up with a highly-competent leading lady to get a handful of her friends out of sexual servitude is an oddly specific thing to have at both ends of the period. Looked at it that way, The Transporter Refueled is a massive letdown, but even comparing it to the previous films in the series, it's rather unimpressive.

This time around, Frank Martin (Ed Skrein) is hired by Anna (Loan Chabanol), whom we've been introduced to as a prostitute long in the employ of Arkady Karasov (Radivoje Bukvic), a former special-ops type who took over that part of Nice's crime world fifteen years ago, in 1995, but who clearly has more planned, including having Frank's recently retired spy father (Ray Stevenson) taken hostage in order to keep him motivated.

For a guy who was supposedly some sort of fantastic spy back in the day, Frank Senior gets kidnapped pretty easily, which makes him an odd addition to a series that already had an older foil in Inspector Tarconi, who has been replaced with a younger, more hostile model (Samir Guesmi). For a franchise that works in large part because it requires almost no detail, Luc Besson and his co-writers Adam Cooper & Bill Collage backfill both more and less than necessary: If you're going to feel the need to link Frank and Arkady with an incident that explains why Frank is no longer in the military, why keep it so vague? It also makes the fifteen-year thing weird - Frank, Arkady, and Anna all seem too young for that, and it's also a bit odd that the flashback to fifteen years ago that opens the film specifies 1995, putting the main action in 2010, making me wonder if the script has just been sitting around since the last of the Jason Statham-starring movies without even cursory updates.

Full review on EFC.

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