They are rebooting The Transporter series this week. I don’t know why.

Okay, I do know why; the why is money. I guess what I don’t understand is the how. How do you justify rebooting a franchise about a protagonist whose only discernible personality traits are:

  1. He drives a car.
  2. He fights people.
  3. He’s very punctual.
  4. He’s Jason Statham.

I know The Transporter series has already been made into a TV series (with Chris Vance in the Statham role). That confused me too. If The Transporter series wasn’t initially conceived as a vehicle (h’yuck!) for Statham and his unique gifts, that’s what it ultimately became. The Transporter without Jason Statham is like Dirty Harry without Clint Eastwood, or Monsieur Hulot without Jacques Tati. No one would even think of remaking those without their star. One simply doesn’t make sense without the other.

Granted, The Transporter franchise doesn’t quite have the critical reputation of those other two. The only reason no one is outraged about The Transporter Refueled is because no one cares about The Transporter in the first place. But the first three movies had their charms, almost all of which involved Statham as he was coming into his own as a full-fledged action star. At a time when superhero movies (and CGI action) were on the rise, Statham was the rare actor graceful and athletic enough to perform the death-defying moves demanded of his character — and the films themselves (particularly the first one) were pleasant throwbacks to the sort of solid B-level kung-fu thrillers that almost never make it into theaters anymore. Though occasionally just as over-edited as its comic-book colleagues, The Transporter did grant Statham an occasional long take to showcase his martial-arts skills.

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Statham’s fight scenes aren’t as overtly comedic as Jackie Chan’s, but he does share the Hong Kong action star’s affection for props and improvised bludgeons.

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His favorite trick in the Transporter series is turning his own clothes into deadly weapons (which also doubles as a convenient excuse to show off his impressive physique):

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As he proved again in this year’s Spy, Statham may have made his name scowling and sneering as he brawls his way through legions of goons, but he’s also very willing to poke fun at his macho persona. The Transporter series is littered with delightfully self-deprecating humor. Surrounded by goons in a parking garage in The Transporter, Frank Martin improvises an escape by dumping over several barrels of oil and then slipping and sliding through the thugs’ grasp. Suddenly this:

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Turns into this:

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And then this, which is like something out of a Three Stooges short:

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That’s followed by this, which has the physics-defying logic of a Bugs Bunny cartoon:

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Admittedly, Frank Martin is not the most consistent character. Sometimes he looks more concerned about denting his car or staining his suit than he does about getting beat up by four armed men:

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Other times he’ll happily break his beloved Audi’s window to kick a dude and deliver a righteous one-liner.

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There’s really only one artistic reason to reboot The Transporter without Jason Statham, and that’s to correct an error that was made in the release of the first film, when Frank Martin’s house was destroyed by some bad guys. The trailer for The Transporter — but not the finished film itself — included this mind-bogglingly beautiful moment:

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Yes, that’s Jason Statham.

Deflecting a missile.

With a f---ing dinner tray.

Don’t ask how it’s physically possible to deflect a missile with a dinner tray, because it’s definitely not. Possible or not, though, it is awesome. When The Transporter was good, it was very, very awesome.

So take note, Ed Skrein. If you want to win me over, you better start practicing your kitchen equipment explosive deflections. Otherwise? Leave the transporting to Jason Statham.

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