The Transporter franchise could never be mistaken for cerebral cinema, but the first three films were something of a guilty pleasure thanks to the undeniable presence of Jason Statham in the lead role. Indeed, the biggest question hanging over this reboot was whether it could fly without ‘the Stath’, who has been replaced by rising British star Ed Skrein (Game of Thrones). As it transpires, however, the casting is the least of its problems.
The story, by Adam Cooper, Bill Collage and series co-creator Luc Besson, sees Skrein’s Frank Martin pulled into a job by Anna (Loan Chabanol), a life-long prostitute who, along with three of her friends, is looking to exact revenge on her vicious employer; so beginning a deluge of car chases, gun battles and fist fights choreographed to within an inch of their lives.
While no Transporter film could claim to have strong female characters, this instalment ramps up the machismo to overwhelming levels. Director Camille Delamarre (Transporter 3 and Taken 2, and helmed Brick Mansions) sets out his stall with an unsubtle opening sequence in which a convoy of bad guys roll into the French Riviera, gun down the local mafia and trot out an entourage of scantily clad women from their blacked-out SUVs. And it goes rapidly downhill from there.
Every female on screen is a near-naked prostitute, forced to use their sexuality against a slew of men who are nothing more than caricatures themselves. Both Frank and his father (Ray Stevenson) – who is supposed to be an international man of mystery but comes across like a lecherous buffoon – indulge in intimate relations with the girls they are helping. While this presented as entirely reciprocal, it feels unpleasantly exploitative given their vulnerable situation. The camera, too, ogles the girls with the same cool, inhuman detachment it applies to Frank’s gleaming cars; that one of the women is shown indulging in a limb-flailing threesome mere hours after being shot in the abdomen speaks volumes about their value to this narrative.
Even leaving aside the rampant misogyny, the film has little to recommend it. Skrein tries hard but is no match for his predecessor, the action is contrived and repetitive, and the clunky dialogue so laden with cliché and exposition (despite tenuous references to Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers) it’s like wading through treacle. All told, this is blunt, offensive filmmaking that has no place in modern cinema.
UK Release Date: September 4, 2015
This review was originally published by The List