Now, normally it's not fair to compare films to each other, especially ones that belong in different genres. Fury Road is a dystopian, science fiction/action adventure and Refueled is a small pile of crap on top of your favorite dessert. However, comparing these two films is acceptable because they have an almost identical plot. Fury Road is about a badass lady warrior helping five breeding slaves escape a cruel and insane warlord, while Refueled follows a smirking, douchey James Bond reject that is paid to help four sex workers escape their evil and greedy Russian pimp.
The difference comes in the storytelling. Fury Road's escapees are beautiful, elegant, and complex. They are incredibly scarred from their ordeals, but are strong, three-dimensional women with inner lives and power. In Refueled, just minutes after the sex workers are rescued by The Transporter and his dad, they all sleep together. Two of them with dad, and one with The Transporter. Now, no slut-shaming here, but these women are given a sex scene instead of two or three minutes of character development, which seems backward: characters are given shading, history, and motivation, so that when they are paired with other characters of the sex they prefer, there is chemistry, sparks fly, and the sex they have either moves along the story or creates obstacles that will be faced in the third act. The sex in this movie is: you boy, me girl, let's mash parts now because we're supposed to because it's a movie.
Ed Skrein (replacing the now apparently irreplaceable Jason Statham) whispers his lines in a Brit Batman growl that, along with his constantly smug smirk, makes him the most imminently punchable leading man since Paul Dano. He carries this movie the same way an octogenarian carries bricks: with much effort, but mostly not at all.
The cinematography is without depth or shading, the performances are wooden or terrible across the board (except for the always delightful Ray Stevenson as Dad Transporter), and the film is sexist to the point of anger. Every woman in this movie is either duplicitous, stupid, or just nothing, because no effort was put into the cliché-riddled script to give them depth. Or personality. Or names. I know none of their names.
But all of this is obvious. The production company that put this literal and actual waste of time out is EuropaCorp. While they have a few genuinely great films under their belt, their two biggest franchises (The Transporter and Taken) have never had a good movie past their first (and even the first Taken is arguable). Of course this was going to be bad. It's the fourth entry in a franchise and we don't even have Statham to watch while he kicks people and grimaces.
Let's say that action movies don't need feminist ideals to go along with their female (or male) characters (even though, hello, Fury Road), and let's say it doesn't have to be smart or, even by all filmmaking definitions, "good," as long as it has some kick-ass, adrenaline-pumping action. Even if all those things were true (they're not), but if they were, then luck is all out of shit because The Transporter has it all. It is stupid, poorly made, and so sexist Donald Trump would tear up. But most of all, it's boring. And that, for an action film, is unforgivable.
The Transporter: Refueled
Directed by Camille DelamarreGrade: D-
Now playing at Old Mill Stadium