Review – Out of Gas (“The Transporter Refueled”)

Again we have a reboot or re-imagining or whatever you want to call it these days. It all translates into just another trashing of a former great movie in a futile effort to remake it and hopefully re-up a franchise. I don’t know about you, but I’m getting pretty sick and tired of this. #somebodystopthemadness

Without the panache, fun, and strength of Luc Besson’s 2002 original Transporter script starring steely-eyed Jason Statham, we have the Jet-Li/Jackie Chan moves of young Ed Skrien as Frank Martin, Jr., the hot-shot, driver-for-hire of his tricked out, do-anything Audi S8. He follows a set of steadfast “rules” and is never late… well, almost, and has a playful father (Ray Stevenson) who just retired from the British Consulate located in the beautiful beach resort of Southern France.

But trouble looms as the country’s leading Russian mob kingpin, Karasov (Radivoje Bukvic), who runs prostitution like a czar, is about to have a very bad day. Four of his call girls, lead by sexy Anna (Loan Chabanol), decide (after a 15 year enslavement) to destroy Karasov both financially and physically. Taking a page from “The Three Musketeers”, Anna employs the transporter to drive her and her “packages” away from a bank heist. But the packages turn out to be her co-horts, Gina (Gabriella Wright) and Qiao (Wenxia Yu), who  just robbed Karasov out of millions of dollars. Franks incentive? Their fourth team member, Maria (Tatiana Pajkovic), has Frank, Sr. held hostage!

However, once the girls reveal who their boss is and what their ultimate plan is going to be, both Frank, jr. and Frank, sr. are willing to go along and help out the amazingly hot-looking girls. LOL! Like they were gonna say, “No”! Not to mention the fact that Frank, Jr, and Karasov are old adversaries and have a score to settle, naturally. So, Anna puts her devious scheme into motion to further rob Karasov of all his money and make it look like he’s holding out on his fellow mob boys. There’s more driving, eluding police, fights galore, more driving, crazy physics-defying stunts like in those Fast ‘n’ Furious flicks, slo-mo crashes, etc.

The climatic gunfight showdown aboard Karasov’s yacht and the ridiculous ending is just about what you’d expect from this female-empowered mash-up of James Bond meets Mission: Impossible, with the guys taking a backseat to the girls doing the real work. Is it any wonder why with Camille Delamarre as director, who spins this convoluted script by Luc Besson, Bill Collage, and Adam Cooper into almost a chick-flick. Not that that’s a bad thing, mind you, but when you compare Besson’s natural gift as an action director vs Delamarre’s average film making, the difference is quite obvious.

The stunts are generally okay, but not well shot or staged. The car chases, a staple in the Transporter canon, were lackluster and unimaginative here, as well as the laughable cliche-riddled dialogue and plot-hole laden script. Yes, you have beautiful women in sexy lingerie and gorgeous guy models adorning the screen, with the occasionally cutsie lines delivered by Stevenson (the best thing about this movie), but I yearned for Statham and his kick-ass stare, gravelly voice that would make Chuck Norris wince, and scary fighting style. All that and Besson’s take-no-prisoners direction is sorely missed in this reheated retread.

Vanishing Point (1971)

Driving for a living was never as dangerous or filled with as much adventure as this very strange and eclectic movie from the early 70’s. Starting out as regular cinematic release, this film ended up earning a cult status for its quirky script, weird plot, unique direction, and a nude chick riding a motorcycle in the desert. It played for decades afterwards at midnight movie houses everywhere.

A car delivery driver named Kowalski (Barry Newman) is a former race car driver, Vietnam War vet, and ex-cop who is haunted not only by the war, but by his dishonorable discharge, AND the sudden death of his girlfriend. Yeah, life’s not been good to this guy, so he lives for the thrill of driving and gets high on adrenaline. In his job of delivering cars cross-country, he doesn’t stop to rest, but hops into his next assignment: delivering a super-nice white 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T 440 Magnum from Denver to San Francisco.

Before leaving, he pops pills to stay awake for the long drive ahead and puts the pedal to the metal. Before long, the real fun starts, and the cops are after him for speeding, but he outruns them. Meanwhile, in Nevada, a blind black DJ named Super Soul (Cleavon Little) hears about Kowalski’s police pursuits and starts to report them on his radio station, encouraging the driver to evade the police! Curiously, as the hours tick away, the two seem to become psychically linked and start talking to each other through the radio.

Kowalski blows a tire and is helped by an old prospector (Dean Jagger) who catches snakes and is given fuel. He also picks up two gay hitchhikers who just got married (this was in 1971 !!). But they attempt to hold him up at gunpoint, so Kowalski throws them out of the car and continues on. Then’s the famous scene where Kowalski is helped by hippie biker, Angel (Timothy Scott), who gives him pills to help him stay awake, while Angel’s naked bike-riding girlfriend (Gilda Texter) who shows him a collage she’s made of newspaper articles. Hey, nice articles ya got there, honey!

The cops are determined to stop Kowalski at the California border and, despite Super Soul’s warning about the police trap over the radio, Kowalski decides to end his life in a blaze of glory as a crowd watches and cheers.

Written by G. Cabrera Infante (who wrote under Guillermo Cain), it was based on some actual events that happend in San Diego. Directed by Richard Sarafian, who had a long career directing TV series from 1961-1968 (Gunsmoke, The Twilight Zone, Batman, to name a few), until switching to directing and acting in films in 1970. This was also Cleavon Little’s first movie and later would go on to become a megastar in 1974’s Blazing Saddles as Sheriff Bart