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Review: ‘The Transporter: Refueled’ quickly flames out

Ed Skrein stars in "The Transporter Refueled."

Ed Skrein stars in “The Transporter Refueled.”

(Bruno Calvo / Associated Press)

The fun’s been siphoned from a franchise tank with “The Transporter: Refueled,” a reboot of the Luc Besson-produced French Mediterranean-set series about a lone wolf driver-for-hire that spawned three movies from 2002 to 2008.

The original made a balletic bruiser of a star out of Jason Statham, and it enjoyably fused trashy European glitz with deliriously fun Hong Kong fight choreography. But this generic installment — produced and co-written by Besson and directed by one of his regular editors, Camille Delamarre — has all the appeal of somebody furiously waving a fashion spread in front of your eyes while droning in assorted accents.

New guy Ed Skrein (“Game of Thrones”) is suitably ripped, and he hoarsely whispers the same rules that Statham’s black-tie mercenary did: any package delivered, no questions, no names, no deal changes. But Skrein exhibits none of Statham’s tough-guy magnetism when talking or waylaying Eastern European thugs. That may have been why Ray Stevenson was cast as this Transporter’s louche, retired-spy dad, who is kidnapped by a coterie of blond-wigged fashionista prostitutes of different national origins — diversity in casting! — to ensure the Transporter’s help in carrying out their revenge mission against Russian trafficking boss Yuri (Yuri Kolokolnikov).

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Cheap silliness abounds, including car chases that are more about loud crashes and CGI than the thrill of speed. (Parts of the movie play like an Audi ad: Skrein mentions fingerprint recognition technology to a scrum of wannabe carjackers and later uses auto-driving mode so he can step out to fight some goons.)

Then there’s slinky ringleader Anna (Loan Chabanol), who utters every line like a come-on, seduces the hero she’s tricked into service, then coos in bed, “I come from an impoverished village.”

“The Transporter: Refueled” is this year’s model of crazy stupid.

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“The Transporter: Refueled.”

MPAA rating: PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, sexual material, language, a drug reference, thematic elements.

Running time: 1 hour, 36 minutes. Playing: In wide release.

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