Frank Martin, played by newcomer Ed Skrein, a former special-ops mercenary, is now living a less perilous life- or so he thinks- as an independent agent contracted to transport classified packages for questionable people. When Frank's father (Ray Stevenson), pays him a visit in the south of France, their father-son bonding weekend soon takes a turn for the worst when Frank is engaged by the cunning femme-fatale, Anna (Loan Chabanol), and her three seductive sidekicks on a mission to orchestrate the bank heist of the century. Frank must use his covert expertise and knowledge of fast cars, fast driving and fast women in an attempt to outrun a sinister Russian kingpin, and worse than that, they are thrust into a dangerous game of chess with a team of gorgeous women looking for revenge.
'The Transporter Refueled' is the kind of movie that makes you nostalgic for a movie that came out in 2002 to middling reviews. Watching the mindless horror on screen in this remake-reimagining-reboot-whatever-it-is might actually make one remember the original 'Transporter' with unexpected fondness. It's a strange world we live in where a franchise like 'The Transporter' is already getting tossed back through the Hollywood meat grinder for another go.
Say what you will about the first film – or its sequels – but Jason Statham has a certain energy about him that's addicting. At least those films have that. 'Refueled' doesn't even have the privilege of sporting a charismatic leading man. Instead Ed Skrein imbues anonymous driver Frank Martin with a phony mystique. Skrein is doing his best Statham impression, I presume, and it only comes across as desperate.
Filled with beautiful, but bad actors and filmed with a garish abandon, 'Refueled' looks and feels distinctly like you've been sentenced to watch a feature-length Dior perfume commercial. Everyone talks as though each word is their last. It's a breathy whisper-fest where the actors are betrayed by their direction. The way they speak is supposed to exude confidence when all it does is elicit laughter. Like watching 'Days of Our Lives,' but with a couple car chases stuck in for good measure.
Do we know if 'Refueled' is a remake? Does it even matter? The film does start off with the same ogling of a sleek Audi sedan in a parking garage. It also involves transporting someone, and not something, so it has that in common with the others. Perhaps it's a remake, but who cares?
Here Frank Martin cruises around France picking up mysterious packages and people and transporting them to mysterious places. Martin's father (Ray Stevenson) has popped in for a visit, and the two of them pal around drinking wine, lounging in million-dollar modern homes, and dress in tailored suits. Ah, the life!
Martin's life, however, is cursed. When you're a driver shuttling ne'er-do-wells around for a living, you're bound to get caught up in some unsettling stuff. The peril this time around comes from a laughably bad villain who runs the French prostitution circuit.
Discussing the plot is futile since it only exists in order to get Martin behind the wheel of a fast car. One might hope that even though the movie lacks any sort of substance or style that it would make up for it in the action department. Sorry.
The car chases are as derivative as the idea to revive this franchise in the first place. They're filmed in that brain-blending style where no shot lasts longer than a second and nothing makes sense. For a movie whose main character's motive is driving really fast, 'Refueled' never gives him much exciting driving to do.
This is also one of those action movies where sound effects bludgeon you to death since the visuals are so crummy. There's one scene where Martin simply walks into frame and sits down to talk to a prospective client. For whatever reason – drama I suppose – an intense whoosh accompanies him like he's flying into the frame. It's silly. The whole movie is silly. And, in the end, it's an essentially pointless rehash of a franchise that wasn't in need of rehashing.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
This is a single-disc set, featuring one 50GB Blu-ray. There is a code included for an UltraViolet Digital Copy.
While the bland, over-saturated cinematography is painful to look at I suppose that the 1080p presentation does do its job. That this movie has the visuals of a bad music video isn't the fault of the transfer. It presents the source material as well as it can.
The digital look is painfully apparent here. The entire image lacks depth. It lacks a cinematic quality. White are too hot and the visuals are bathed with cyan and yellow, because why not? That said the actual clarity doesn't falter. The details are quite vivid, from facial features, to intricate patterns on lace or embroidered leather seats.
The (anti-) climax offers up a few soft shots that honestly mess with the viewing experience. The shots in question are most likely from a helicopter as it circles around the hero and villain for one last duel. Every once in a while the long shots appear soft and out of focus. Then a close-up would appear and the detail in the picture would be back. It's a jarring experience. Darker scenes, like the club sequence, also feature softness. Black areas on the whole were less than stellar. While, the transfer most likely suffers most from its source, there are some trouble areas here.
Loud doesn't necessarily equal greatness. 'Refueled' is certainly loud. Good golly, it blasts the soundscape like it's actively trying to assault your ears. It features a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix that is busy, boisterous, and at times bothersome.
The sound design here is mostly to blame. Like the rest of the movie it feels like an amateur version of the original. The sound effects have been cranked up to an ear-splitting level. The revving of car engines and the crunching and screeching of crashing metal might cause one to plug their ears or turn down the volume. It's one of those sound mixes that's hard to figure the proper volume levels for since dialogue is so low – everyone whispers – and yet the sound effects are so bloody loud.
Surround sound is adequate, but also loud. Rear channels are full of noise that often combats the more important sound coming out of the front channels. One might be impressed with the shrieking nature of this mix, but I'm not. It might be loud, but that's all it is.
Frank Martin: The Reluctant Hero (HD, 9 min.) – A promo-style behind-the-scenes featurette with interviews, and standard talking points tailored for marketing.
The Coeur Brise: Les Femmes of 'Refueled' (HD, 6 min.) – A quick look at the female co-stars in the movie.
Rocketing from 0-60 (HD, 6 min.) – Interviews that talk about cars, car chases, and the few stunts performed.
Trailer (HD, 3 min.) – The theatrical trailer is included.
'Refueled' lacks the charisma of Statham specifically, and the joy of filmmaking generally. It's just there taking up space. An unnecessary remake of a franchise that had already run its course quite recently. The audio is loud, the visuals are nothing to get excited about, and the extras are barely there. This is one to avoid if you can.