Sunday, 27 September 2015



This must have been what it was like in 1969, when On Her Majesty's Secret Service came out and James Bond wasn't in it. Instead of James Bond 007, there was this Australian bloke we'd never heard of who didn't look, sound or act remotely like James Bond, and it doesn't matter how many ski chases and fights and explosions and helicopters and mountains and girls and gadgets and one-liners there are, that's not James Bond on the screen. History has allowed us to re-evaluate OHMSS, and many now consider it one of the best Bonds, and perhaps this George Lazenby guy wasn't quite so bad after all.

In 46 years time, though, it's probably unlikely we'll be re-evaluating this one. The Transporter Refuelled (the fourth in the series, unless this is supposed to be a reboot rather than just another instalment) is a typically glossy product from the Luc Besson action stable: picturesque French locations, glamorous babes, hateful Eastern European villains, ludicrous car stunts, martial arts sequences where the lone hero beats up half a dozen lowlifes. Frank Martin (now played by Ed Skrein) is hired for a simple driving job - except that the three bewigged lovelies he's ferrying around are executing a brutal revenge on their Balkan scumbag ganglords: robbing them blind, pitting them against each other and bringing their whole empires down. And they've roped Frank's Dad (Ray Stevenson) into the scheme as well...

George Lazenby's crime wasn't that he wasn't James Bond, it was that he wasn't Sean Connery. In exactly the same way, Ed Skrein's crime is that he isn't Jason Statham; in exactly the same way you might watch OHMSS and wonder what it would have been like with Connery, you can't help but imagine what The Transporter Refuelled would be like if The Stath was still playing the part. Probably awesome, and the Statham-shaped hole in the middle of the movie can't be ignored. It's not Ed Skrein's fault, obviously. And even without Statham the film is a perfectly decent, extraordinarily silly piece of shooty fighty kicky punchy with lots of screeching tyres and blokes lamping one another.

To be honest I enjoyed it more than I'd expected, and I liked it more than The Transporter 3 (though the first film in the series is still the best). Even if it's basically nothing more than a feature length Audi commercial, it's still a solidly entertaining hundred minutes or so of thumping fights and chases that's never dull and might well set up further sequels. Whether that'll allow Skrein to grow into the role, make it his own in the way that, say, Roger Moore did, time will tell. Fun anyway.


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