New car, new star, no soul

New car, new star, no soul Tatiana Pajkovic, from left, as Maria, Loan Chabonal, as Anna, Yu Wenxia, as Qiao, and Ed Skrein, as Frank Martin, in EuropaCorp's The Transporter Refueled | AP
  • Skrein excels in hand-to-hand combat and negotiates the curves with effortless ease, but the newcomer fails to come across as the battle-hardened mercenary that Frank is.

You do not exactly walk into a theatre for the latest installment of movies like The Transporter series expecting a complex plot, profoundly meaningful dialogues or nuanced performances. You go to watch the leading man beating up the baddies, driving a super sexy car through an array of seemingly endless obstacles and saving the day for everyone—all while being poker-faced.

The latest edition of the series, The Transporter Refueled, with Camille Delamarre at the helm, does not try to deviate from this staple formula; but without the star whose name is synonym to The Transporter. Replacing Jason Statham behind the wheels is Ed Skrein (who played Daario Naharis, a sellsword who is in love with Dany in season three of the Game of Thrones).

Frank Martin (Skrein), who now seems to be staying away from high-risk missions and is going to spend some quality time with his father (Ray Stevenson—Dexter devotees know him as Isaak Sirko, the head of Ukrainian crime syndicate, from season seven) gets a call from a gorgeous woman, Anna (Loan Chabanol) to deliver a package. Frank has rules; three of them—no names, no change once a deal is sealed and no details spoken about the package. And there is a fourth—no guns; he doesn’t carry or use one in the entire film. He agrees to drive Anna and two of her equally ravishing sidekicks (the package) from outside a bank to safety.

Things get complicated for Frank when he is forced to be part of the heist-cum-revenge plan these Alexandre Dumas-quoting beauties have against a Russian pimp who forced them into prostitution a long time ago, as a fourth member of their gang has Frank senior in custody. What follows is inane sequences of high-octane action, chase and more action.

Now, stepping into the shoes of Statham is not an easy task although he is not exactly known for his acting talents. Skrein excels in hand-to-hand combat and Krav Maga style action sequences and negotiates the curves with effortless ease, but the newcomer fails to come across as the battle-hardened mercenary that Frank is. His chiseled face and frame make you feel he belongs to the pages of a fashion magazine. By the end, you may find wanting Statham back if the makers of the franchise decide to have another package for Frank.

While the leading man, the ladies and the villain and his cohort ensure that nothing remotely similar to any sort of emotion is ever reflected on their faces, Stevenson gets to mouth a few funny lines and manages to score a few points in the acting front as well.

Sure, there are plenty of over-the-top action sequences and an Audi that looks straight out of a Bond flick. But you have seen them all before and there is hardly anything you would miss if you decide to sit this one out.

Film: The Transporter Refueled
Director: Camille Delamarre
Cast: Ed Skrein, Ray Stevenson, Loan Chabanol
Rating: 2

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