The 2002 film The Transporter saw Jason Statham stake his claim as possibly the best bald action star since Bruce Willis (well, maybe tied with Vin Diesel). After making a big impression in Guy Ritchie's first two films (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch), he would go on to define his career with the Transporter and Crank action franchises, and audiences are now used to seeing the release of at least one Statham action film per year.
The first three Transporter movies, written and produced by Taken mastermind Luc Besson, became bigger and bigger hits around the world, with The Transporter 3 cracking $108 million globally. And while the Cinemax spin-off Transporter: The Series was not a hit, TNT will be airing that show this fall. This could be a nice way to keep the property front and center as Besson's EuropaCorp reboots the franchise, with that installment named Transporter 4.
Statham won't be returning, but now we know who has been tapped to take over the role of Frank Martin: according to Variety, British actor Ed Skrein is the new lead. Skrein has a handful of credits but is best known to audiences at large for playing Daario Naharis during season 3 of Game of Thrones, a mercenary in the employ of the Silver Queen, Daenerys Targaryen. The role has been recast for the upcoming Season 4, with Nashville's Michiel Huisman taking over.
As for why EuropaCorp ultimately went with Skrein, CEO Christophe Lambert had this to say:
“We searched everywhere to find a fresh face who had the potential to become an action movie star and we’ve found the right match with Ed Skrein, who’s not only a great actor but also has enough charisma and physical stamina to play Frank Martin with brio.”
Much of the plot of Transporter 4 is still a mystery at this point, but we know a few things. The reboot will be set in the French Riviera (as in the first film), and writers Bill Collage and Adam Cooper (Tower Heist) "have given more depth" to the role of Frank Martin. Transporter 4 will also introduce audiences to Frank's father, who has yet to be cast but will supposedly be played by "a prominent thesp." The reboot will be directed by Camille Delamarre, who helmed Paul Walker's final completed film, Brick Mansions, and edited Taken 2.
With the first three films' international settings and loose plots held together by over-the-top action sequences, it's not much of a surprise that EuropaCorp has already pre-sold the reboot in the Middle East and several European markets, with Mark Gao’s Fundamental Films to distribute in China.
Skrein's rough charm fit in well with the Game of Thrones TV universe, but many fans of the books were not happy with his portrayal of Daario, whose literary counterpart was less pretty and more of a swaggering peacock and land pirate.
Still, Skrein immediately stood out in the role, and given the favorable reviews for his turn in the 2012 crime drama Ill Manors, it appears that this is Skrein's time to step into the spotlight. He'll have to really put his stamp on the role of Frank Martin in order to fill the void left by Statham's charisma and prominent brow, but we do know Skrein can handle himself in a fight.
Stay tuned for more as details emerge.
The Transporter 4 begins production in June 2014