Clothes might not make the man but Derbyshire–born model–turned–actor Jason Statham has been happily wearing the designer togs of a brooding tough guy since he bossed our attention in Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels.
The Transporter franchise, launched in 2002, confirmed him as a muscular if monosyllabic leading man and snagged recurring roles in The Expendables and Fast & Furious series.
Evidently, three increasingly preposterous films as Special Ops mercenary Frank Martin was enough for Statham, because his trademark scowl is nowhere to be seen in this fourth instalment, directed by Camille Delamarre.
Instead, London–born Ed Skrein slips into the lead character’s tailored suits on the sun–kissed Cote d’Azur.
In an unwelcome nod to his predecessor, Skrein brings no charisma or emotional depth to the testosterone–fuelled party.
He flexes his muscles in high–tempo fight sequences and casually tosses out clunky one–liners cobbled together by scriptwriters Adam Cooper, Bill Collage and Luc Besson.
Skrein looks suitably moody but lacks the imposing physical presence of his predecessor
Delamarre’s picture runs empty on gas fumes from the kinetic opening frames.
Russian kingpin Karasov (Rasha Bukvic) and his goons Yuri (Yuri Kolokolnikov) and Imasov (Lenn Kudrjawizki) sweep into the French Riviera in 1995 and seize control of the local working girls.
Fifteen years later, one member of the harem, Anna (Loan Chabanol), decides to wreak revenge by bringing down Karasov’s empire.
She joins forces with fellow prostitutes Gina (Gabrielle Wright), Maria (Tatiana Pajkovic) and Qiao (Wenxia Yu) and hires Frank Martin (Skrein) as the getaway driver for her suicidal scheme.
Anna ensures Frank’s co–operation by kidnapping his old man (Ray Stevenson), who has been poisoned with a toxin that will kill in 12 hours, unless she administers the antidote.
The Transporter Refuelled delivers souped–up action sequences including a spectacular car chase along the Monaco waterfront.
Skrein looks suitably moody but lacks the imposing physical presence of his predecessor, while Stevenson has a ball in an underwritten supporting role.
Female cast members slink seductively in front of Delamarre’s leering lens.
Their characters are sketched in laughably broad strokes and are treated as disposable sex objects throughout.
The man behind the wheel of The Transporter might have changed, but this glossy reboot is depressingly familiar.