When we look back at the year 2015 in movies, a pattern will likely emerge. Failed reboots. They simply aren’t cutting it for audiences this year – much like any other really, who wisely avoided them like the plague. Does this mean that moviegoers are seeking original content or are the continued failures simply miscalculated money-grabs from the studios, revealing that some franchises don’t require resurrections?
Does The Transporter Refueled and its tepid box office returns this weekend come as a good omen and harbinger to the death of the reboot studio trend?
Perhaps not, but nobody asked for a new Terminator film – at this point it’s three strikes and that franchise, as much as I enjoy its mythos, is out. Fantastic Four seems to be a protest on the classical format of good versus evil that comics have established since the golden age and whom Disney has so well adapted to the big screen. More recently, there was Hitman Agent 47, which will be forgotten as quickly as it will disappear from theaters – a reboot no one asked for but we received nonetheless.
On the opposite spectrum of 2015 reboots are the success stories. Jurassic World, that mammoth blockbuster film, both an unfortunate and successful phenomena of brainless Hollywood opiate that sacrifices storytelling for unimaginative and wonderless effects. Perhaps that optimism of audiences rejecting recycled unoriginal reboots, dies with the Jurassic World argument, albeit a terrible one, given how badly mediocre that audience pleasing film was; Mad Max was a critical success with domestic and international box office receipts as a gauge to what audiences want, in a long thought dead franchise.
By and large this year’s reboots have been largely unsuccessful, which is a fantastic sign, because that would illustrate audiences have come to their senses, at least one can hope. One thing’s for sure, those reboots that failed were all franchises that had no fans clamoring for their returns, but instead had audiences proclaiming “What? Another one?”
The studios’ miscalculated when they thought they could force a franchise on its audience, and surprisingly, audiences stayed away, proving that their powers of resurrection far more powerful than their ability to appeal.
So, then let’s proceed to the reboot of the Transporter series, formerly starring the incomparable Jason Statham. The Transporter Refueled brings back Frank Martin with Ed Skrein (Game of Thrones) in the lead and Ray Stevenson as his retired and easily susceptible to kidnapping father Frank Martin, Sr. The beautiful and smart Anna (Loan Chabanol), sold to Russian criminal Karasov (Radivoje Bukvic) at twelve years old, and her three girlfriends slash sidekicks (Gabriella Wright, Tatiana Pajkovic, Wenxia Yu), each donning similar outfits and blonde wigs seek Frank’s services.
Frank explains the rules, but rules are sometimes meant to be broken, especially when your father is involved, which has Frank working way out of his comfort zone to help these four musketeers get payback on Russian villain Karasov in this action packed high octane farce. In all honesty, it feels like an unnecessary theatrical release something more akin to a VOD sequel, which would have been a formidable home for this reboot.
There is an impression that Audi has a monopoly on action films (usually the bad ones); it appears to be the car of choice for hitmen (it was also featured in Agent 47) and transporters, which makes this film feel like an Audi advert. Skrein is introduced in the very first scene, practically as a car salesman detailing a cool app that controls his car – all while he takes down some thugs interested in his sweet ride. I’ve never been in an Audi S8 but after watching this film I’m sure I could find my way around the vehicle and all its features.
But the S8 appearance doesn’t make sense. The film has a prologue in 1995 that introduces the brutal rise of Karasov and following this sequence a title reads “15 Years Later.” That would place this film in 2010, and the Audi S8 was released in 2012. I am also no tech expert, but were they using the latest iPhones five years ago!!??
But I digress, anachronisms aside, there’s plenty of car chases and high flying cop cars for the action aficionado, never leaving room for many dull moments, no matter how dull the dialogue may be. Action fans will be pleased with this fast-paced male fantasy as it checks all the right boxes: fancy cars, gorgeous woman, and a few random girl-on-girl kisses to keep your interest piqued. Unlike the bad Hitman: Agent 47 this one is innocently fun, even if its a cookie-cutter action male tailored for the male demographic (which I undoubtedly fall). Skrein does a fine job and has some charm, but nowhere near Statham’s.
The Transporter Refueled has little to offer but fast chases and choreographed fight sequences, but it’s mediocre enough to pass as entertainment and will hopefully mark the end to the recent string of unnecessary reboots. While neither good nor memorable, it was entertaining, and I can’t deny that I enjoyed the action, and was kept interested by Skrein and Stevenson’s charisma (he appears to be having a blast making this film). I give this film a pass, because I was succumbed to Agent 47 (and Dragon Blade, which was a brainless action film set to auto-pilot). At least in Refueled there’s an innocent playfulness and charm to spare despite being trite and unoriginal.