DIR: Camille Delamarre • WRI: Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, Wyatt Smith PRO: Luc Besson, Mark Gao • DOP: Christophe Collette • ED: Julien Rey • DES: Hugues Tissandier • MUS: Alexandre Azaria • CAST: Ed Skrein, Loan Chabanol, Ray Stevenson, Lenn Kudrjawizki
Of all the things to reboot, why this? Has the Transporter become some kind of pop culture icon while no one was watching? And was Statham so integral to it that when he wouldn’t come back it had to be rebooted rather than just given a sequel with a new actor? It’s not like he’s not James Bond (even if he does arbitrarily have Bond’s gadgets and resources this time). Really, there’s nothing here that would have even seemed out of place were it part of the old ‘continuity’. Anyway…
Frank (Skrein) is the exact same character from the previous movies. He wears suits, drives an Audi and enjoys punching people in the trachea while berating them for making him late. The plot is the exact same as every other one of these movies; he gets given a job, it somehow involves a woman and before he knows it, his precious rules have been broken and he’s in over his head fighting some larger-than-life, gang-leader villain purely because he happens to be there. The big difference with this reboot is that Frank’s father, Frank Sr. (Stevenson), who tags along for most of the plot in an attempt to inject some charm into this otherwise lifeless husk of a movie. The big baddie is a crime boss who made his money in prostitution and now four of his former, ill-treated employees have returned to reap vengeance upon him while using Frank’s skills to keep them alive long enough to do it. Oh and all the characters frequently quote Dumas’ Three Musketeers because I guess someone thought it would make them sound deep.
In case the tone of the above summary didn’t give the game away, this is not good. In fact it’s bad, it’s very bad. While there have undoubtedly been objectively worse made films this year (oh, say, Fant4stic) few have made for such an annoying, aggravating viewing experience as this. Mainly, it’s the arrogance that permeates the whole enterprise. From the opening credits that shoot and score shots of his car like we’re watching the newest instalment in a highly-anticipated Marvel sequel to the endless slow motion shots in the car chases and cutaways to characters talking about how amazing Frank is; this is very much a film that thinks it’s a lot cooler than it is. This is initially somewhat amusing but quickly becomes skull-crushingly annoying. While they might almost have gotten away with such a tone if The Stath were still in attendance, without his particular brand of genuine on-screen presence and winking self-awareness, it just comes across as insufferably smug.
What makes it even more baffling is that everything in the film is so safe and bland. The acting is flat and awkward, aside from perhaps Stevenson who is trying very hard to actually have a good time and almost appears to be in a different, better film. And then there’s the big draw, the action scenes. The car chases are fine, there’s a particularly decent one involving a taxiing plane and one laugh-out-loud-dumb moment with a jet ski but on the whole they aren’t a patch on that bike chase from Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. As for the fist-fights, they’re dreadful. The choreography is passable but in what is clearly a lowered age-rating, they are completely lifeless and injury-free. Frank might as well be fighting men made of cushions as the fights have all the substance of the brawls from the Adam West Batman show.
Add in the final nail in the coffin – that this film has some of the leeriest, most grossly sexist direction in years – you have a thoroughly unenjoyable film. The scenes of the bad guy sitting on his yacht as the camera drools over slow-motion, bikini-clad, hot-tub dwellers while generic R’n’B plays might almost have been amusingly quaint in how antiquated it is were it not for the un-ironic, deadly seriousness with which the film seems to think this is the epitome of cool. The whole movie feels like a Transporter fanfic written by a teenager from the mid-noughties who viewed the original two films as the zenith of ‘cool’ action cinema. And to that end, if you are a fourteen-year-old who has seen hardly any films and still somehow clings onto mid-noughties, MTV Cribs-era sensibilities then you might, maybe like this. Everyone else should keep well away from this dull, lifeless turd that only seems to exist as a check on the studio’s balance sheet.
If you really want to go see a franchise reboot of a suit-wearing, Audi-driving, balding mass murderer; go see Hitman: Agent 47 instead. At least the people behind that had both the crew and age-rating to stage some seriously fun action sequences even if the film almost immediately abandons any fleeting relationship it had with sanity.
15A (See IFCO for details)