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New ‘Transporter’ hardly refueled

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Ed Skrein has no charisma as Frank Martin in the latest “Transformer” movie. (Courtesy 20th Century Fox)

Definitely rebooted and sequelized, if not exactly refueled, the fourth “Transporter” movie is broken down, out of gas, and any of a dozen other dead car metaphors.

Likely it was dead from the drawing board. Continuing this series without Jason Statham was a dubious idea, and casting Ed Skrein as the Frank Martin character was another wrong step.

Statham is a genuine movie star, popping off the screen from the moment he first appeared on it, in 1998’s “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.” He has a unique delivery and a unique physicality. He seems like a brawler, but he has a great attitude. When we see him on screen, we know who he is.

Skrein has been in a few episodes of “Game of Thrones” and the English cop movie “The Sweeney.” He has been to the gym, has full lips like Tom Hardy’s, and wears a few days scruff. But who is he? No idea.

When he drives, he doesn’t appear to be looking at the road. When he fights, the choreography makes it seem as if the bad guys are just walking into him. When he kisses the girl, he may as well be thinking about baseball.

In “The Transporter Refueled,” Frank Martin still follows his rules: no questions asked, no opening the package, etc. He takes on the job of driving a woman, Anna (Loan Chabanol), and two “packages” (i.e. two other women), after what turns out to be a bank robbery.

The women kidnap Frank’s dad (Ray Stevenson, the only person in the movie with a personality) and force Frank to drive for more jobs; of course, he ends up having to fight off armies of bad guys as well.

It’s all tied to a plot to take down the kingpin behind a prostitution ring. A noble cause, but at the same time, the movie is filled with pretty girls in bikinis and lingerie, dancing or lounging for our pleasure.

Directed by Camille Delamarre, who edited the far superior “Transporter 3,” the movie doesn’t focus on anything. Frank can suddenly disappear from a room and reappear later, a woman with a near-fatal gunshot wound is just fine the next morning, and dad gets kidnapped twice, despite the fact that he’s supposed to be a badass himself.

It all comes from the factory of Frenchman Luc Besson, who cowrote and produces. Last year he made the inspired, energetic “Lucy,” but seems to have nothing left for this lifeless lump, this flat tire. It’s time to send this series to the junkyard.

The Transporter Refueled
One and a half stars
Starring Ed Skrein, Ray Stevenson, Loan Chabanol, Gabriella Wright
Written by Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, Luc Besson
Directed by Camille Delamarre
Rated PG-13
Running time 1 hour, 36 minutes

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